Thursday, March 24, 2005

Tanita Tikaram: Ancient Heart/Holographic Voice

("My eyes are just holograms...")

Vocalist Tanita Tikaram was born in Munster, Germany on August 12, 1969, in-between the last polarized throes of the Flower Power era, three days after the horrific August 9th murder of actress Sharon Tate by members of Charles Manson's Sphan Ranch commune, and three days before the legendary August 15th Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, New York. Perhaps the timing of this soul's arrival marks a potential turning point in the creative consciousness of humanity. Certainly that would seem evident upon listening to the sumptuous, self-penned poetics inherent in Tikaram's 18-year, 8-album musical spanse.

Tikaram's ethnicity, maternally Malaysian and paternally Fijian/East-Indian, has contributed to the rich, wide-ranging stylization of her works. From the somber origins of Twist In My Sobriety (the soundtrack to a masterful, award-winning, sepia-toned video featuring compelling vignettes of impoverished Native Americans), the premiere track from her multi-million-selling 1988 CD debut Ancient Heart, to the eclectic variances of Finnish and Latin-inspired melody on 1998's Cappuccino Songs LP (with a darkened, eerily atmospheric cover of ABBA's The Day Before You Came), Tikaram's caramel-coated voice traverses cultural boundaries effortlessly.

(stirring imagery from the 1988 video Twist In My Sobriety)

All God's children need travelling shoes
Drive your problems from here
All good people read good books
Now your conscience is clear
I hear you talk girl
Now your conscience is clear

In the morning I wipe my brow
Wipe the miles away
I like to think I can be so willed
And never do what you say
I'll never hear you
And never do what you say

Look my eyes are just holograms
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety

We just poked a little pie
For the fun people had at night
Late at night don't need hostility
The timid smile and pause to free

I don't care about their different thoughts
Different thoughts are good for me
Up in arms and chaste and whole
All God's children took their toll

Look my eyes are just holograms
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety

Cup of tea, take time to think, yea
Time to risk a life, a life, a life
Sweet and handsome
Soft and porky
You pig out 'til you've seen the light
Pig out 'til you've seen the light

Half the people read the papers
Read them good and well
Pretty people, nervous people
People have got to sell
News you have to sell

Look my eyes are just holograms
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety
More than twist in my sobriety

The brooding, melancholy infused in Tikaram's earlier works was hardly the stuff of pop teenage angst. Moreover it evolved from an innate, ongoing seriousness and a sense of alienation brought on by the sudden advent of worldwide fame at age 18. "When I was still a teenager, I made a debut album that sold almost 4 million copies, visited city after city, staying in top hotels, performing and promoting my songs in over two dozen countries. It sounds glamorous - and in many ways it was - but I was lonely, all my friends were at college and not part of my universe. It was very hard to relate to what was happening. It was almost like I was sleepwalking through it all."

Outside the realm of musicianship, Tikaram has indugled her interest in acting and film, appearing in director Monika Treut's Taboo Parlour, a segement of the 1994 Lizze Borden-helmed drama Erotique (a fictional, pre-Vagina Monologues quadrant of feminist vignettes about sexuality). The much-lauded original version of Twist In My Sobriety has been recently featured in the 2001 Bruce Willis Crime/Comedy Bandits, and Tikaram was also the title track vocalist for the 1997 french feature-film drama Marion.

The interim between the 1998 release of Cappuccino Songs and Tikaram's spirng, 2005 LP Sentimental, has seen collaborative work with other musicians such as Ashley Beadle, Asian Dub Foundation, and Moodswings. Previously, during a quasi-sabbatical after the release of her third album in 1992, Tikaram had collaborated with the Bronte Brothers on their album The Way Through The Woods, and soloist Christie Hennessy on his LP Lord Of Your Eyes. "I want to discover new things, music I wasn't brought up with. In Paris I hear a lot more world music. On Radio Nostalgie in Paris they play an English record followed by a French one, and I do like French pop. I also love Abba and Fleetwood Mac. I listen to everything - to things I don't understand, like Chab Khaled and Paolo Conte because I think their music is sexy. I have a very dark voice so I am always trying to find ways to lighten things up."

Sentimental is Tanita’s sixth studio album and features 10 new songs and a unique vocal collaboration with Nick Lowe who sings on two of the tracks. “I wanted to get back to things I had forgotten, fundamental ideas about keeping things simple and interesting and looking at how the voice sits with other instruments”, says Tanita, “Ideas I felt I lost but which maybe I just knew naturally when I was seventeen." The track listing includes ‘ Play Me Again’ and ‘My Love',‘Don’t Let The Cold’, ‘Every Day Is New’, and the concluding track, ‘Heart In Winter’.

In the fickle, pop perceptions of consumerism, Tikaram faded away in 1998. With the release of Sentimental it is Tanita's opportunity to reincarnate before the public eye. It is a different day, an impatient, tense, superficial age, but Tikaram sounds and appears to be up to the stuff of successful reinvention and her optimism reflects her eagerness to take on the challenge. "They (the cuts on Sentimental) are very human songs I hope. I like to think that by the end of a track a listener can imagine me winking at them, smiling.” The 18-year-old who began with a hit song wrapped around cross-cultural visions of indigenous suffering has returned at the ageless age of 35 to pluck the chords of full-gamut human emotion.


ANCIENT HEART (1988)Reprise 25839
Good Tradition|2:49
Cathedral Song|2:51
Sighing Innocents|3:31
I Love You|2:45
World Outside Your Window|4:52
For All These Years|4:52
Twist in My Sobriety|4:50
Poor Cow|1:5
He Likes the Sun|5:26
Valentine Heart|4:04
Preyed Upon|5:03

THE SWEET KEEPER (1990)Reprise 26091
Once and Not Speak|4:44
Thursday's Child|3:
It All Came Back Today|6:00
We Almost Got It Together|4:01
Consider the Rain|5:15
Sunset's Arrived|5:06
Little Sister Leaving Town|3:57
I Owe All to You|4:30
Love Story|3:17
Harm in Your Hands|6:28

EVERYBODY'S ANGEL (1991) Reprise 26486
Only the Ones We Love|2:53
Deliver Me|3:58
This Story in Me|3:14
To Wish This|4:20
Mud In Any Water|3:46
Never Known|2:44
This Stranger|3:12
Swear By Me|3:23
Hot Pork Sandwiches|3:52
Me in Mind|3:25
Sometime With Me|2:54
I Love the Heaven's Solo|2:51
I'm Going Home|3:42

You Make the Whole World Cry|3:37
I Grant You|2:31
Heal You|4:26
To Drink the Rainbow|3:19
Out on the Town|3:16
Hot Stones|2:59
Men & Women|3:08
Any Reason|3:36
Love Don't Need No Tyranny|4:59
Way That I Want You, The|3:44

2 METER SISSIES, VOL. 1 (Various Artists) (1991)Varagram VCD 474722
Track: Little Sister Leaving Town|3:48

LOVERS IN THE CITY (1995) EastWest 5409-8804
I Might Be Crying
Feeding The Witches
Happy Taxi
My Love Tonight
Lovers In The City
Yodelling Song
Wonderful Shadow
Women Who Cheat On The World
Leaving The Party

THE BEST OF TANITA TIKARAM (1996) EastWest 0630151062
Twist in my sobriety
Cathedral song
world outside the window
Good tradition
Love don’t need no tyranny
Little sister leaving town
Only the ones we love
You make the whole world cry
Wonderful shadow
Men and women
I might be crying
Happy taxi
My love tonight
Lovers in the city
And I think of you - e penso a te
Twist in my sobriety (tikaramp radio)

THE CAPPUCINO SONGS (Mother) 1998 537 227 -2 MUMC 9801
Stop Listening
Light up the world
Amore Si
Back in your arms
The cappuccino song
I don't wanna lose at love
The day before you came
If I Ever
I like this
I knew you

SENTIMENTAL (April 20, 2005)
Something new
Play me again
My Love
Don't shake me up
Everyday is new
Love is just his world
Don't let the cold
Got to give you up
Heart in winter


Blogger Ostrich said...

I love twist in my sobriety. Excellent song

11:26 AM  
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