March 02, 2023

Do-Ré-Mi - The "Happiest Place In Town" (1988)

Country: Australia
Genre: Pop
Label Number: CDV 2467

© 1988 Virgin Records
Built around the powerhouse pipes of vocalist Deborah Conway (who would further indulge her fondness for the dramatic on Pete Townshend's 1989 rock opera The Iron Man), nearly everything about The Happiest Place in Town sounds equally large. The bass-drums-guitar trio behind Conway matches her intensity with blasts of funky rock that manage to be both muscular and consistently tuneful, augmented nicely with occasional brass. And Conway tackles big issues, offering perceptive takes on matters of the heart ("Adultery") and bashing the usual musicianly targets (suburban life, racism) to far less effect. A bigger concern is the band's perhaps-inevitable temptation to overdo things; "That Hanging Business," featuring braying blues harp in addition to Conway's most over-the-top performance, is a low point. Yet for all the emphasis on size, the title track, a gorgeously wistful ballad, closes the disc with a perfect demonstration of why bigger isn't always better. With no more than a simple bed of piano and shimmering guitar figures -- as well as a melody that lingers long after the album ends -- Conway and her bandmates deliver their best performance. That it turned out to be their last as well (Do Re Mi broke up after the album's release) allowed the group to close their career on a true high note.

 tags: do re mi, the happiest place in town, 1988, flac,


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