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Jimmy Somerville

Manage the Damage

Release Date: 01.01.00
Record label: Instinct
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


Making it Through
by: michael r. smith

The big question is whether people will follow. Jimmy Somerville, formerly of Bronski Beat and the Communards, has been forging his own subtle solo career for over a decade now. His previous efforts have been among some of my favorite albums, so I didn't expect any less of him when his latest foray, Manage the Damage, hit the stores. (Or should I say store...Newbury Comics kicked Tower Records' ass once again...)

Even though he's not one of the most prolific musical artists on the scene today, Jimmy is one of the most underappreciated. Many who hear his voice for the first time mistake him for a female singer, which could be one of the reasons it has held him back from achieving more of a mainstream appeal. Another possible reason is the fact that he incorporates gay politics, specifically AIDS issues, into his songs.

An openly gay artist himself, Jimmy has hung in there as best as he can, considering the arms length approach the music industry is taking with other music stars in the same situation. In this particular case, Jimmy takes on the murder of the high-profile victim Matthew Shepard as his primary focus. Stating in his liner notes that the Wyoming-based incident itself was indeed a hate-crime, Jimmy obviously has no problem in seeming contrary to what the state court has attempted to persuade the public to believe.

His firm stance in getting such controversial messages out through his art is only half of his charm. The other half is found in the lush and moving music found on the rather appropriately titled Manage the Damage. The opener, "Here I Am" and the centerpiece "This Must Be Love" are the hands-down standouts found here. The import singles, "Lay Down" and "Something to Live For" aren't all that bad either. And I love it when he sings in a sexy lower register, like on "Eve".

More varied than his earlier works, this album swings from techno-tinged dance music to balladry reminiscent of the early 1970's. It's as if William Orbit has had a chance meeting with Roberta Flack or Three Dog Night and this is the result of their collaboration.

The last two songs on the album, however, aren't nearly as strong as the first two. Sometimes repetitive lyrically and sometimes surprising in its choices of sound effects and vocal stylings.

Now that the 90's are finally over, there's too much damage out there to manage already than to add a bad review to the list.