Make Believe

Platinum Weird

2006: Interscope/Weapons of Mass Entertainment B0007839-72

  1. Will You Be Around*
  2. Lonely Eyes
  3. Happiness*
  4. Make Believe
  5. Picture Perfect
  6. If You Believe in Love
  7. Love Can Kill the Blues*
  8. I Pray*
  9. Piccadilly Lane
  10. Goodbye My Love

* = twinned with a track on Platinum Weird, the “not yet released” album

Hmm! This one’s intriguing from unusual angles: it’s the musical equivalent of historical fiction, for starters, purporting (not too emphatically) to be unreleased recordings from 1974, although it’s a mid-2000s product of a collaboration by David A Stewart and Kara DioGuardi. Tangential to that are the issues of retrospectively-viewed qualities of mid-’70s British rock (much of the commentary I’ve fleetingly seen on this whole venture brings up Fleetwood Mac by comparison, but I’m no expert on their sound nor on this genre in general so I’ll pass on that one) and of the songwriting skills of both Stewart and DioGuardi (especially as four of this album’s songs also appear in “up-to-date” versions on the “new” Platinum Weird album, thus setting up each version for scrutiny). There’s the Dave-with-someone-who-ain’t-Annie issue to consider, for some of us (I know he collaborates on gazillions of projects with every other person on earth, but, well, this encroaches on hallowed ground in some ways!), back-to-back with the she-writes-pop-songs-for-pop-fluff prejudice that comes with familiarizing oneself with DioGuardi’s credentials. And on top of that, there’s the simple question of Is It Good Or Not to consider.

I won’t use the terms “bogus” or “hoax” or such-like here because Stewart hasn’t seriously pushed the fiction’s legitimacy…and, after reading an interview in which he explained a bit about the idea’s genesis and the snowballing of the hype, I see his position on going ahead with it, and I find it somewhat amusing. Moreover, I’m impressed by DioGuardi: to have stumbled into a songwriting/performing partnership with Stewart is one thing, but to have recorded *two* albums (with four songs in common) as two different singers—well, that’s some rare flexibility. That she pulls it off is worth underscoring: I had to listen to each album a number of times before agreeing that it was the same woman singing. She certainly delivers here a classic throaty ’70s Brit-rock chanteuse, so classic that I found myself repeatedly running my mind through the names of the *actual* ones to see which one DioGuardi was maybe specifically mimicking.

Stewart can’t quite get away with the same effect, as guitar playing is less obviously dated (and his singing turn on “Piccadilly Lane” is too obviously not early-’70s Stewart’s voice), but his virtuosity is nonetheless demonstrated by his ability to have provided the guitar work for these two very different albums. (Personally I’m more partial to the sharp ’n’ snazzy stuff he cranks out on the latter-day album, but he does have some *quite* lovely moments on this one.)

So back to that question of Is It Good Or Not: yeah, I suppose it is…it’s just not up my alley except as a curiosity with highlights. I’d be curious to hear the opinions of people who are more into the music of this ilk and moment—husky warbling female lead vocalists, a somewhat homogenous acoustic assemblage, and wispily maudlin lyrics—but I haven’t much to say about it myself. I’ll keep listening in case that changes.