Andy Bell: Torsten the Bareback Saint review – brave, bawdy concept album

(Cherry Red)

"Freshly buggered, he braved it into school the next day" is a brave start to an album. But then Torsten the Bareback Saint, the soundtrack to Andy Bell's one-man show at the Edinburgh festival fringe, is a brave album. It tells of a journey of sexual discovery concerning an "age-defying polysexual" – that is, someone who has a variety of lovers and doesn't get old – told cabaret-style, bawdy like Bertolt Brecht and densely lyrical like Cornelius Cardew. Without the electropop associated with his 80s duo Erasure, Bell's theatrical tenor falls somewhere between Michael Ball and Marc Almond. Here, his musical accompaniment is a small, piano-led ensemble, with a few electronic interventions, and some big orchestral moments such as the epic Fountain of Youth. There are strong individual songs – a standout is the muscular I Don't Like – but they're thin on the ground, and need context to make sense. In any case, their lyrics mean they are unlikely to feature on the BBC Radio 2 playlist any time soon.

Contributor

Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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