Love For Sale - 2016
Birds do it, bees do it — and here for your entertainment the Tiger Lillies do it, in 16 songs all written by Cole Porter and presented in the band’s particular and distinctive style.
While Cole Porter’s name might not be a part of our everyday conversation it’s surprising just how well known many of his songs are and how they have become part of our culture. In this album we find out what happens when his lyrics are interpreted by the Tiger Lillies. The original songs have probably endured so well because they are such good examples of the songwriter’s art, with economical phrasings and cute rhymes, all ideally suited to performance and open to being covered in a variety of ways. As such, the selection here presents songs performed in a relatively “straight” manner, letting the music or singing give them individual character, while other songs have been more freely adapted by Martyn Jaques, the band’s singer and songwriter, to introduce the seedier elements of low living that are one of the band’s signature notes. Hence the sub-title, A Hymn to Heroin, which points up the ambiguities in certain of these lyrics that are so ripe for exploiting: that burning yearning in “Night and Day” we all recognise, might also be a craving for something other than another person’s love...
If that one’s a bit of a tough number, there are plenty of up-beat moments too, with a jaunty version of “You’re the Top”, a delightful seesawing duet on “You Do Something To Me”, with fellow band member Adrian Stout, and a roll-up call to “Let’s Misbehave” to get the album started. The crystalline, haunting rendition of the title-track, “Love For Sale”, will transfix many listeners, while others will really feel how much “Miss Otis Regrets”; on the other hand, depravity and addiction stalk “Begin the Beguine” and, not surprisingly, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, in a couple of other heroin tracks, as we might call them.
The album is being released on 10 July, just before a two-week run of its stage-show performance, “Love For Sale”, at London’s Soho Theatre. The “Olivier Award-winning godfathers of alternative cabaret”, as the theatre website introduces the Tiger Lillies, will be working with Opera North Projects, with whom they have collaborated on a number of shows previously and to great acclaim. This will also be a return to a venue where the band has played many times over the years, this time with a somewhat twisted cabaret showcase of these reimagined Cole Porter songs that lays bare some of the delirium and despair that lies beneath the surface of his romantic show-tunes.
Martyn’s singing and performance on accordion, piano, guitar, string synthesiser and occasional harmonica is as ever accompanied by Adrian’s bass, musical saw or euphonium, plus backing vocals, with drums by Timothy Remfrey.