January 7, 2010

Swing it like you mean it, Sister

Immediately on its US release in 1987 I was lucky enough to stumble across It's Better To Travel by a swank band I'd never heard of before. My friend so liked it he borrowed my LP and never gave it back, Fortunately I had made a cassette tape copy for myself. We were huge fans of The Style Council, Sade, and other sophistipop soul bands of the day.

I was working nights as a janitor and had a 2lb walkman clipped to my belt and a backpack full of cassette tapes to keep me company. I was able to ditch the backpack for a couple of weeks as I fell in love with Swing Out Sister's soulful, sophisticated, synthesized pop. As cassettes were want to do, there inevitably came the frustrating moment when I had to try and untangle the tape from the player. I bought both a cassette and another LP version the next day.

Swing Out Sister has had a rollercoaster ride of a career. Currently the goroup is up, up, up in many places around the world, including Southeast Asia where they've been touring of late. (Sadly for me, it seems Seattle --while part of the Pacific Rim-- is not slated for a visit from the group.)

Here's a great interview with Corinne Drewery from the Bangkok Post.
''I think the kind of music we did was quite new at that time, the sound of the horn-riff and upbeat synthesising-sound arrangement,'' said Drewery.

''You could call it electro-pop or jazz-pop. It's a mixture of things. But most of our influence is music from our childhood like Bart Bacharach, Dionne Warwick and movie soundtracks. We also love music by John Barry, who scored much of the James Bond films. We have admiration for beautiful soundtracks and good songs, so we've tried to encapsulate that in the kind of songs we were writing.''

After becoming a ''duo'' band, Drewery explained that after the second album, the musical direction of Swing Out Sister shifted from pop to, what she called, ''cinematic sound''.

''We were more fond of retro music _ beautiful lyrics with smooth and crystalline sound,'' Drewery added.
Read the rest here.