Bill Wells And Friends – Nursery Rhymes
Reworked nursery rhymes, you say? Recorded by musical catalyst Bill Wells alongside collaborators old and new? Ok, whatever. Yo La Tengo announce their presence early on, lighting up Three Blind Mice with their familiar krautfuzz glow before cracking open Humpty Dumpty’s tumbling rhythm in a manner entirely appropriate to the song’s doomed hero. Wells’ own arrangements are gorgeous too, falling majestically into the space between Amy Allison’s doleful rendition of Shoo Fly and Bridget St John’s unexpectedly sensuous Ding Dong Bell. There are some marvellous performances here.
When problems do arise, it's not courtesy of the musicians themselves, but the nauseous guff that plagues some of the source material: for example, the dulcet tones of Syd Straw cannot rescue the familiar-yet-moronic melody of Oranges And Lemons. Still, it’s the darkness at the heart of the songs that provide the album’s spark – when everything ignites, it’s all sorts of spectacular. [Will Fitzpatrick]