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Here Lies Love (2CD)

4.3 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 6, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

'Here Lies Love' is a 22 song double-disc song cycle - improbably poignant, decidedly surreal, surprisingly thought provoking - about the rise and fall of the Philippines' notorious Imelda Marcos. It was conceived by David Byrne; composed by Byrne and British deejay/recording artist Fatboy Slim, a/k/a Norman Cook; and performed by a dream cast drawn from the worlds of indie rock, alt country, R&B and pop.
Byrne's taste in collaborators is as imaginative as it is impeccable, including Cyndi Lauper (who recounts, to lighthearted disco beats, Imelda's courtship with Ferdinand Marcos), Steve Earle (as the power-hungry Ferdinand), Dap-Kings vocalist Sharon Jones (recalling Imelda's introduction into New York society) and Natalie Merchant (as spurned Imelda confidante Estrella, anticipating the onset of martial law). Along with vocals turns from such stars as Tori Amos and the B-52's Kate Pierson, Byrne works with rising indie rockers St. Vincent and My Brightest Diamond; New York chanteuses Nellie McKay and Martha Wainwright; and dance-music divas Roisin Murphy and Santigold. Byrne himself appears as the voice of imperialistic America on 'American Troglodyte' a send-up that wouldn't have seemed out of places in Talking Heads' True Stories.

Byrne originally envisioned this as a musical theatre piece, to be mounted in disco and nightclub settings, reflecting the globe-trotting Marcos' taste for such velvet-roped spots as Studio 54 and Regine's. In 2006, he performed work-in-progress versions to enthusiastic audiences at New York City's Carnegie Hall and the Adelaide Festival in Australia. When more funding for a theatrical version proved elusive, While plans for a U.S. theatrical production continue to evolve, he has delivered this unique recording. 'Here Lies Love' has an effervescent disco feel, redolent of Fatboy Slim's own dance-floor anthems, with warm undercurrents of the Latin rhythms that have percolated through Byrne's recent solo work. The sunny arrangements act in counterpoint to the reality of the Marcos' increasingly repressive regime, reflecting the imagined inner life of the glamour-obsessed Imelda. Explains Byrne, 'For me, the darker side of the excesses are, for the most part, a matter of record. A lot of the audience is going to come with that knowledge already. What's more of a challenge is to get inside the head of the person who was behind all of that, and understand what made them tick.' Byrne offers no judgment and avoids the obvious - there is no mention of Imelda's infamous shoe collection.
Many of Byrne's lyrics are, astonishingly enough, constructed from actual Imelda quotes, including the project's title, the words that Imelda, now returned to the Philippines from U.S.-assisted exile in Hawaii, would like to have inscribed on her gravestone. Byrne generously annotates each song in the CD booklet and illustrates the story with archival photos. In a detailed preface, he reveals what drew him to this subject and the bumpy route he took to launch the project and, ultimately, record this CD. The lavish booklet is indeed a page-turner, just as 'Here Lies Love' is a wonderfully old-school album that rewards start-to-finish listening. Once again, Byrne - beloved as musician, thinker and bicyclist-about-town - reveals the breadth and singularity of his vision.
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Digital Booklet: Here Lies Love
Digital Booklet: Here Lies Love
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 6, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B002U33GR4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,393 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ewomack VINE VOICE on April 6, 2010
Format: Audio CD
How many will buy "Here Lies Love" not because it's the new David Byrne release but because it's a rock/pop opera that explores the psyche of Imelda Marcos? A bar chart of that statistic would make for interesting analyzing. Given that potential demographic dichotomy, no one needs knowledge of Marcos, the Philippines or even anything west of the International Date Line to groove to this funky collection of songs that will hook listeners like helpless fish. Though Byrne's vocals only appear noticeably on three of the twenty-two tracks, his presence nonetheless pervades and inhabits every song and vocal inflection. Longtime fans will notice the "Fuzzy Freaky" guitar timbre straight away. Others will notice numerous familiar signature song structures and transitions. One listen reveals that this indeed is a David Byrne collection. Also, given the amazing slew of amazing vocal acrobatics contained herein, many will probably not mind the absence of Byrne's voice. And what a lineup: Natalie Merchant, Cyndi Lauper, Kate Pierson, Tori Amos, Steve Earle, and various other well-known singers shake their golden larynxes. The results of this harmonic convergence of pleasure may even overwhelm some on first listen. Here indeed lies the new David Byrne project. No doubt. Not to diminish the contributions of collaborator Fatboy Slim, who provided many of the funky beats (Byrne and Slim worked together previously on the incredible song, and mandible-plunging video, "Toe Jam"). Byrne fans with or without a sense of modern history will find plenty for their brains to feast on. But those who go further than the music will discover even more. Initiate additional saccadian motion.

Imelda Marcos remains a downright enigma.
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Format: Audio CD
(This is a review of the special edition "book" version of Here Lies Love.) (3 & 1/2 stars)
The Amazon Product Description already does an excellent job of telling about this item, so I will focus on commentary rather than description. If you have already read my review of the music in the regular edition, skip to the paragraph at the end, which contains the Special Edition comments.
The 22 songs on Here Lies Love pretty effectively carry out David Byrne's desire to create a musical theater piece centered around the life of Imelda Marcos and the woman who essentially raised her, Estrella Cumpas. (The whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of the Madonna Evita.) With Imelda's love of dancing and disco, Byrne sought out Fatboy Slim to help him lay down the grooves that propel this music forward. In some cases the songs are just flat-out disco, as with "Ladies In Blue." More often it's just the presence of dance beats in a more rock, pop or "world" oriented tune. Mr. Byrne is no stranger to dance beats, having previously written Heads and solo songs that featured a high dance-ability quotient, and encouraged dance-heavy remixes of his songs. On Here Lies Love, the dance flavor is mostly a good thing, although the dance tracks do occasionally veer into cheesy territory. The decision to use an armada of guest vocalists is also one that I ended up mostly supporting. Although having a different singer on every song did slightly deprive the story of a continuous narrative voice, but I ended up thinking of each different "Imelda" singer as portraying a different side of Imelda's personality, or at least how she was a different person at different points in her life.
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What a brilliant concept! Putting the story of Imelda Marcos to music, albeit with rhythm and grooves galore. But, as reviewer Oxxo pointed out, this is NOT really disco music. Yes, dance guru Fatboy Slim collaborates with David Byrne on these compositions, and most all of them DO have a decidedly rythmic vibe, but it's not some sort of thump-thump dance drivel or a collection of trippy remixes. Byrne and Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) have instead created a unique alternative "opera" and have astutely chosen an eclectic lineup of guest vocalists who further had spice and creativity to this double-disc extravaganza; artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Allison Moorer, Steve Earle (brilliant choice!), Sharon Jones, Alice Russell, Florence Welch, Kate Pierson (of the B-52's), Natalie Merchant, Tori Amos, Martha Wainwright, and many more. While the music on here does not sound like standard disco, nor does it bear much resemblance to what Byrne did with Talking Heads. But it's a glorious triumph of musical daring and creativity that should appeal to any fan of intelligent pop or dance music.
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Format: Audio CD
Leave it to David Byrne, one of pop's great innovators/eccentrics, to deliver a concept album (and a double album at that) about the life of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Phillipines. If that wasn't strange enough, take a look at some of the talent that he has managed to bring on board. Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Earle, Nellie McKay, Natalie Merchant, Santigold, Kate Pierson and Allison Moorer among others handle the vocals on the 22 tracks set to dance beats and disco grooves. It sounds as weird as all get out, but amazingly it works, for the most part. Even if you know next to nothing about Marcos and the controversy surrounding her time in power (and I'll be the first to admit that I don't), you'll find it hard not to be drawn into the melodic and dancebale concoctions that Byrne and Fatboy Slim have cooked up. The first half of the album is the stronger of the two, by far. Fatboy Slim's beats and the dance grooves take a backseat to Byrne's melodies and sharp lyrics. On the albums's second half, things tend to get reversed as the focus goes away from melody somewhat and a no holds barred dance party breaks out. Still, taken as a whole, Here Lies Love is an engrossing and largely entertaining pop record from a true genius. If it encourages listeners to open a book and learn more abut its enigmatic central figure, all the better.
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