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The Story So Far - The Essential Collection
Athy Torch song trilogist weighs in with best of
Peter Murphy, 18 Nov 2009
Populist troubadour or arty balladeer, it doesn’t really matter a damn what you think of Jack L: this retrospective is, as we write, sitting pretty at No.1 in Ireland. The Story So Far is exactly what it purports to be: a decade’s work from a man who has cut a dash between the (not necessarily oppositional) vocations of artist and entertainer. Lukeman jazzes up Brel with a sort of Dino razzle-dazzle and delivers show-stopping takes on ‘Port Of Amsterdam’ and ‘Old Man River’ in a manner that befits the Sunday Night Palladium as well as bordello bar – and that’s a compliment. Conversely, when he adapts the hits of the day (Kylie’s ‘I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ and Gnarls’s ‘Crazy’), he mines melody and lyric for maximum Polanski. And, as an aside, the triptych of Newman numbers is lush and lovely.
He’s also a fine songwriter. ‘Georgie Boy’ is an instant standard somewhere between Scott Walker and U2 at their most Orbyfied. ‘Ode To Ed Wood’ does garage band rambunctiousness via glam androgyny (although the budget price live recording here doesn’t do the tune justice). What else? ‘Universe’ is Sgt. Pepper’s gone gothic, ‘Little Man’ converts ‘Let It Be’ into Ray Charles, ‘Open Your Borders’ is torch deluxe. And so on. Enjoy.