Release Date: Nov 6, 2012
Record label: Astralwerks
What if Kylie's busy, chrome-plated disco hits were reinterpreted by an orchestra? The Abbey Road Sessions strips 15 familiar songs (there's also one previously unreleased track, Flower) of their giddiness, and sculpts them into grownup love songs, sung by a Kylie who sounds, for the first time, like a fortysomething woman who has encountered a few slings and arrows along the way. There are some majestic moments: Slow is a torchy gospel/blues number, with Kylie transported by lust as she anticipates putting "my best dress on"; On a Night Like This transforms the teenage-crush fervour of the original into a cool, big-band seduction; and 1988's tinny I Should Be So Lucky has been slowed down and subtly embossed with strings, over which Kylie sounds needy and vulnerable. On the other hand, why summon Nick Cave to rerecord their duet of Where the Wild Roses Grow if the result is nearly identical to the 1995 version? While we're at it, Locomotion didn't need to be turned into a girl-group pastiche, and Flower muscles in on Adele's brawny ballad territory.
The most recent in a series of collections of newly recorded acoustic/orchestral renditions by beloved pop artists, Kylie Minogue’s 25th anniversary album, The Abbey Road Sessions, translates the Australian icon’s biggest hits in often unexpectedly effective ways, something both Patrick Wolf’s arduous Sundark and Riverlight and Tori Amos’s lovely but largely forgettable Gold Dust failed to do. Minogue’s early material fares well, if only because any incarnations would be an improvement over the cheesy Stock, Aitken, and Waterman originals, but it’s the songs that receive the most drastic revisions that elevate the album above a mere exercise or cash grab. Though the stripped-down aesthetic puts the focus on Minogue’s often tinny voice, the more dramatic, fully fleshed out arrangements of standouts like “Finer Things” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” compensate for the lack of synthetic dance beats and vocal effects.
During her 25-year career in the music biz, Kylie Minogue’s ability to re-invent herself and stay current is rivaled only by Madonna’s. Unlike her American counterpart, though, Kylie’s changes never seem desperate, and everything she does exudes a touch of class that makes her shifts seem far more organic. From chirpy teen popper to indie diva to dance-pop heavyweight, every step she’s taken has made perfect sense and in the process, she’s released some of the best pop records of her era.
Kylie. One of pop’s great shapeshifters. An artist who morphed from pop princess to ‘Suicide Blonde’; who crossed the channel of ’90s indie reinvention and popped out the other side as dancefloor diva extraordinaire. Which is why this orchestral “reworking” of her career is so baffling ….
Minogue's vocals show more range and technique here than she's usually credited with. Nick Levine 2012 Kylie Minogue is a game bird, but thankfully The Abbey Road Sessions isn't her track-by-track remake of the Beatles LP. Instead, it's a collection of reworked versions of the singer's own hits, all recorded at London's famous Abbey Road Studios, where Minogue was backed by a full orchestra.
In 2006, while in recovery from cancer, Kylie Minogue talked to Another Magazine about her love of Grey Gardens. A 1976 documentary by the Maysles Brothers, the directors who made The Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter, it traces the eccentric lives of Big Edie and Little Edie, a socialite mother-and-daughter living in a run-down mansion in America, teeming with rubbish, raccoons and fleas. Minogue watched it obsessively with her mother in Paris as she slowly got better.