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Kylie with strings... it's a mini-pop miracle

Kylie The Abbey Road Sessions (Parlophone)

I approached this 16-track collection with trepidation. When I heard that Kylie was reimagining her extensive hit catalogue with an orchestra, I shuddered.

Surely, I thought, the world doesn't need a lorry load of orchestral strings dumped over another set of songs that were serviced perfectly well in their first incarnation?

Get the Australian star into the studio made famous by The Beatles and let the lads with the fiddles loose on their lunchbreak from the day job with the BBC or something. Lazy thinking, eh?

Anyone with even a vague awareness of Ms Minogue's oeuvre would know that the last thing the plaintive Aussie pop icon has been is lazy. Her enduring 26-year career should be a textbook case for aspiring young stage-school dreamers.

From the release Down Under of The Loco-Motion in 1987, the one-time star of Neighbours has continued to rack up the hits. Yet it wasn't until five or six years ago that we began to hear about "the Kylie effect". And that was in reference to the positive impact her publicly dealing with breast cancer had on young women who began having check-ups.

Kylie's thoroughly enjoyable shows are a riot of showgirl fun, pop razzle-dazzle and hen party overkill. If pop music can be said to contain E numbers, Kylie's 1980s' catalogue is top of the list. Curiously, it was when she successfully converted her romper-room smash I Should Be So Lucky into an aching torch ballad for stage that Minogue had a lightbulb moment.



ANGST

While not an unqualified triumph, these sessions have worked a mini-pop miracle. By removing the handbag thump and glitterball sheen, we hear how resilient most of these songs are. And adult Kylie's vocal performances excel in this new setting. Better The Devil You Know has her occupying territory more associated with Dionne Warwick and Julie London.

Her sultry Slow becomes the embodiment of 50 shades of lust.

And she rediscovers the inner angst in Hand On Your Heart once obscured by disco froth. Madonna should pay attention. HHHHI


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