sat 23/03/2019

CD: Nicky Haslam – Midnight Matinee | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Nicky Haslam – Midnight Matinee

CD: Nicky Haslam – Midnight Matinee

Interior design kingpin and his glittering friends pay tribute to alluring pasts

Nicky Haslam's 'Midnight Matinee': not as as essential as 'Sgt. Pepper' shocker

Nicky Haslam is best known as an interior designer. His clients include Rupert Everett, Bryan Ferry and Mick Jagger. His first book was called Sheer Opulence. He has also written, bred horses and performed in cabaret. Accompanying him on his album Midnight Matinee are Everett and Ferry, Cilla Black, Tracey Emin, Bob Geldof, Helena Bonham Carter, AN Wilson and Prince João of Orléans-Braganza. The press release proclaims Haslam, born in 1939, “the most promising performer of his generation.” Geldof declares that he “has… shown us all how it should be done,” and says Midnight Matinee is as essential as Sgt. Pepper and Exile on Main Street.

As preposterous as all this seems, Midnight Matinee is not the out-and-out twaddle that might be expected. A concept album, it revisits evocative places from the past: James Joyce’s Dublin, Andy Warhol’s New York, Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles, Thirties Hollywood. Chuck in some opera, an electronically created duet with Louis Armstrong, Tracey Emin delivering her own prose, snatches of Maria Callas, author Francis Wyndham reading F. Scott Fitzgerald, an improbably John Grant-like cover of US New Wave band The Motels’s “Total Control” and you have an album unlike any other. On Marlene Dietrich’s “Illusions”, a barely recognisable Bryan Ferry pitches in with Haslam.

Taken as the soundtrack to some randomly time-shifting revue, Midnight Matinee works. Unfolding like a fever dream, the familiar wafts in and out giving way to abstractions of the recognisable. Sophia Loren singing is followed by Geldof portentously intoning Raymond Chandler. Haslam can’t sing as such. He intones. Although it’s about as equivalent to Sgt. Pepper as punk buffoons The Toy Dolls’ version of “Nellie the Elephant”, the peculiar and avowedly absurd Midnight Matinee is actually pretty good fun.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the video for Nicky Haslam’s version of The Motels’s “Total Control”

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