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Willow

Title - 'The Age Of Reason (Deluxe Edtition)'
Artist - Bronski Beat

For those not in the know, Bronski Beat were a popular British synthpop trio who achieved success in the mid-1980s, particularly with the 1984 chart hit "Smalltown Boy".

All members of the group were openly gay and their songs reflected this, often containing political commentary on gay-related issues.

The initial line-up, which recorded the majority of the band's hits, consisted of Jimmy Somerville (vocals), Steve Bronski (keyboards, percussion) and the late Larry Steinbachek (keyboards, percussion).

Somerville left Bronski Beat in 1985, and went on to have success as lead singer of The Communards and as a solo artist. He was replaced by new vocalist John Foster, with whom the band continued to have hits in the UK and Europe through 1986. Interestingly enough, Steve Bronski, the only original member, now leads a revived touring version of the band, and has now teamed up with singer Stephen Granville and programmer Ian Donaldson to create an updated line-up of this classic, much-loved sythn-pop band.

Their new album, The Age Of Reason - which comes seven months after original keyboardist Larry Steinbachek died - is their first in 22 years and features a 25-track 2CD edition that boasts over two hours of all new music from today’s version of the once-beloved Bronski Beat.

Disc: 1:
1. "Why"
2. "No More War/It Ain't Necessarily So"
3. "Screaming"
4. "Love & Money"
5. "Smalltown Boy"
6. "Heatwave"
7. "Junk"
8. "Hard Rain"
9. "Run from Love"
10. "A Flower for Dandara"

Disc: 2:
1. "Stars" (Radio Edit)
2. "Stars (Extended)
3. "Stars" (Sordid Soundz Remix)
4. "Stars" (Qubic Cosmic Energy Mix)
5. "Stars" (S.S. Darkstar Mix)
6. "I'll Be Gone"
7. "I'll Be Gone" (Dub and Dusted)
8. "I'll Be Gone" (Stompin' Stiletto Mix)
9. "I'll Be Gone" (S.S. Down & Out Mix)
10. "A Flower for Dandara" (Radio Edit)
11. "A Flower for Dandara" (Sordid Soundz Edit)>br> 12. "A Flower for Dandara" (Extended)
13. "A Flower for Dandara" (Sordid Soundz Extended)

The Age Of Reason is a GREAT album, let me just get that out there right away! Growing up in the UK, I loved the synth pop fun of Bronski Beat and what followed with The Communards, and so to hear that this trio have not only paid sincere homage to to the origins of the band, but at the same time creatively reinvented their landmark debut album ‘The Age Of Consent’ blows my mind.

The album kicks off in fine style (albeit without Somerville's original vocals, please do let that sink in here) with the infectious Hi-NRG of "Why" and backs that up seamlessly with both "No More More War/It Ain't Necessarily So" (which were separate tracks on the original album) and then the always-brilliant to hear "Screaming".

The slow roll soul of "Love & Money" is up next and is followed by their massive smash worldwide hit "Smalltown Boy," before the sultry, smoldering "Heatwave," the dancefloor vibe of "Junk," and then "Need a Man Blues" are lovingly upon us.

Newly additional tracks from the original release are up next in the form of the mid-tempo NRG of "Close to the Edge" and that's backed by the seemingly-muffled sounds of "Hard Rain," and then a track that sounds like it's being played on the wrong (slow) speed, "Run from Love."

The first side then rounds out with another new track, "A Flower for Dandara," a heartbreaking tribute in song to the recently murdered Brazilian transexual Dandara dos Santos. Sung by Rose McDowall, singer with cult ’80s favorites Strawberry Switchblade, the track is heartbreaking when the lyrics are fully explored.

Released in 1984, in reflection, being that 'The Age of Consent' was criminally the only album released by the band to feature the vocal strains of Somerville, I could have sworn that this album had spent the whole '80s in my head.

As for the second CD of goodies, well, there may well be 13 tracks, but there are only three actual tracks to behold amongst them. Showcasing the template for the future direction of this latest Bronski Beat incarnation, they are all new songs and come complete with a generous offering of celebratory dance mixes, of course.

The first of these new tracks is a cover of Sylvester's so-termed queercore disco classic, "Stars" (written by the scene legend Patrick Cowley). Now complete with a refreshing electro-soul makeover, next up is another brand new song, "I’ll Be Gone" that celebrates, with Bronski Beat’s trademark searing vocals, the euphoric self-realization gained in ditching a less than perfect love affair.

Finally, and showcasing quite palpable evidence that Bronski Beat have lost none of their social campaigning and gay activist zeal, the aforementioned "A Flower for Dandara" gets a multitude of mixes to listen intently to.

'The Age Of Reason: Deluxe Edition' 2CD Purchase Link

www.CherryRed.co.uk





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