CD Combined: The Best of Claudia Brcken [Digipak] * (CD 7012085),
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Combined: The Best of Claudia Brcken [Digipak] *
1. Dr Mabuse (A Paranoid Fantasy)
3. (The Beta Wrap Around of) p:Machinery
4. Absolutely Immune
5. Snobbery and Decay
6. Kiss Like Ether
9. Cloud 9ine
10. Thank You
12. Light The Way [Radio Seduction Edit]
13. This Is Not America
14. Night School
15. In Dreams
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 046
Paving the way for Alison Goldfrapp, Risn Murphy, and a never-ending supply of "L"-monikered electro starlets, Claudia Brcken's ice-cool demeanor, striking film noir look, and sultry avant-garde vocals were integral to the success of the '80s German synth pop scene. Gathering 15 tracks from her intermittent and highly collaborative career, Combined: The Best of Claudia Brcken is a welcome reminder of her talents, which unlike the acts she influenced, never really broke through to the mainstream. With just one solo studio album under her belt, 1991's Love: And a Million Other Things, the idea of a career retrospective may seem rather redundant, but wisely opting to include material from the several innovative outfits she has fronted over her 27-year career, this Salvo compilation is far from filler-heavy. Kicking off with three of the singles from her brief spell with Propaganda, the innovative Dusseldorf quartet rumored to be an inspiration for Michael Jackson's Bad, the atmospheric Trevor Horn-produced "Dr. Mabuse" and the funky new wave follow-up "Duel," both U.K. Top 30 hits, and the La Isla Bonita-esque "p:Machinery" are all prime examples of Brcken's trademark Teutonic synth-based sound. But just as inventive are the two tracks apiece from her short-lived duo Act's sole LP, Laughter, Tears and Rage ("Absolutely Immune," "Snobbery & Decay"), her only solo record ("Kiss Like Ether," "Absolut[e]"), and her 2007 effort with OMD's Paul Humphreys, Instead, under the guise of Onetwo (the Martin Gore-penned "Cloud 9ine," originally intended for a never-materialized Propaganda reunion, and the brooding "Sequentia"). Elsewhere, there's her duet from Erasure's Andy Bell's Electric Blue album, ("Delicious"), her vocal contribution to Chrome Seduction's Italo-house anthem "Light the Way," and four new tracks, including covers of Roy Orbison's Blue Velvet theme, "In Dreams," and David Bowie's "This Is Not America" with former ZTT labelmate Paul Rutherford, and two new trip-hop-inspired tracks produced by Stephen Hague (Blur, Pet Shop Boys), which prove that Brcken doesn't always need company to shine. Ignoring 2005's teaming up with Andrew Poppy, Another Language, and her collaborations with Blank & Jones, Oceanhead, and Jimmy Somerville, Combined still leaves a few gaps in Brcken's sporadic back catalog, but overall, it's a fairly representative and always intriguing collection of one of the synth pop scene's unsung heroes. ~ Jon O'Brien
Record Collector (magazine) (p.85) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[With] the brilliant forthcoming single 'Thank You'...it oozes the mystique, aural magic and existential drama that Brucken is famed for..."
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Salvo SALVOCD 046
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