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COVER STORIES
Cry-me-a-Torch-song.com/Piers Ford
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The title of Mari Wilson’s new album isn’t just a play on words. Cover Stories takes some beloved songs and gently picks its way through their lyrics, discovering a multitude of unexpected twists and turns, against a subtle backdrop of modern, stripped-down arrangements that make you shiver with pleasure as the tune emerges from each reinvented intro. It’s bathed in nostalgia but could never be described as just another retro covers project. That’s partly down to Wilson’s sensitive, spot-on vocals which give the album its rather poignant quality. It isn’t that the choice of song is unremittingly sad. Far from it. But as she takes traditionally up-beat numbers like Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to be With You” or the Pretenders’ “Don’t Get Me Wrong” and slows them down to meandering threnodies of contemplation, it’s impossible to escape a slight sense of melancholy, of youth seen through the eyes of experience. I wouldn’t normally expect to describe a new treatment of “Be My Baby” or Gerry Marsden’s “Don’t Let the Sun Catch you Crying” as Proustian, but it’s a measure of the album’s quality, and the thought that has gone into the production (by Simon Hale, who also plays keyboards, and Wilson herself), that its dying chords leave a host of half-memories and elusive dreams hanging in the air, like the scent of autumn on a late summer breeze. She has chosen these songs very carefully, and with great respect for the writers who have provided her – and us – with such a rich soundtrack of pop music. And while she connects with them through her own story – much of which will be familiar to anyone who has had the good fortune to spend an evening at one of her gigs – her considerable gifts as a singer render them equally a reflection of the listener’s life. We revisit our own stories in parallel, allowing old, benevolent ghosts another outing. And just as when she sings “Be My Baby” in concert, and your eyes fill with unbidden tears for reasons that you can’t quite put your finger on, it’s a moving experience. Other stand-out tracks include “Disney Girls” (another concert favourite) and the Gillian Welch number “Dear Someone”, which is treated almost like a sentimental Edwardian music-hall song (more ghosts!) The Gibb brothers are represented by “First of May”, Kirsty MacColl by “They Don’t Know”. Cover Stories signs off with a soft, jazzy treatment of “Everybody Needs a Holiday”, an acknowledgement of the power and value of support in a relationship. It’s a reassuring coda to a really delightful piece of work.
Cry-me-a-Torch-song.com/Piers Ford

Back in the 1980s, when she was renowned for her retro beehive hairstyle and her spectacular live shows...
allaboutjazz.com
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Back in the 1980s, when she was renowned for her retro beehive hairstyle and her spectacular live shows, Mari Wilson had a string of chart-making hits that included "Just What I Always Wanted" and "Cry Me a River." These days, the only remaining vestige of that hairstyle is in the name of her record label. More recently, Wilson has appeared in musical theater (including playing Dusty Springfield in Dusty: The Musical), been a BBC radio presenter and, significantly, started the trio Girl Talk with Barb Jungr. Compared to her albums Dolled Up (Beehive, 2005) and Emotional Glamour (Beehive, 2008), Cover Stories marks a new direction for Wilson, as it consists solely of cover versions without any of her own compositions. The album features eleven of Wilson's favorite songs, lending it a certain similarity to Jungr's album The Men I Love: The New American Songbook (Naim, 2010). However, unlike Jungr's choices, four of Wilson's selections are by female songwriters and six are by non-Americans. Another similarity between Wilson and Jungr is that, rather than recording a straightforward cover version, they each often radically reinvent a song, sometimes making it unrecognizable in the process. One of the best examples of Wilson doing this is her stunning version of "Be My Baby," originally recorded by The Ronettes. Stripping away Phil Spector's wall-of-sound production, she is accompanied by atmospheric acoustic guitar alone, played by John Parricelli. She savors every word of the verses as well as the famous chorus, milking them all for emotion. Wilson achieves similarly miraculous transformations of "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" (originally by Gerry and the Pacemakers) and Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to be with You"—the latter her first ever Springfield cover. If those examples suggest that Wilson is stuck in some sixties time warp, nothing could be further from the truth. Her choice of songs demonstrates that she has an ear for a great song and its possible reinterpretation. While including some songs by well-known artists, The Beach Boys' "Disney Girls" and The Bee Gees' "First Of May" for example, the eclectic array of tunes also features the lesser-known Caitlin Rose, Gillian Welch, Ron Sexsmith and even Big Audio Dynamite. Most of all, Cover Stories lives up to its title. Every track is a cover version, but each is also a story in its own right. And Wilson is a story teller par excellence, extracting meaning and emotion from each one and communicating them impeccably to her audience, her voice as formidable an instrument as ever. Track Listing: Don’t Get Me Wrong; Disney Girls; Be My Baby; Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying; I Only Want To Be With You; First Of May; Own Side; Right About Now; Dear Someone; They Don’t Know; Everybody Needs a Holiday. Personnel: Mari Wilson: vocals; Simon Hale: piano, keyboards; John Parricelli: guitar; Geoff Gasgoyne: electric bass, acoustic bass; Keith Fairbairn: percussion; Ben Hale: flugelhorn, trumpet.
allaboutjazz.com

The “Neasden Queen of Soul” is back with an album funded by fans and a glamorous “attic sale”.
frostmagazine.com by Catherine Balavage
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The “Neasden Queen of Soul” is back with an album funded by fans and a glamorous “attic sale”. I am going to be honest even if it hurts my street cred: I had never heard of Mari Wilson before. But, boy, am I kicking myself now. The voice, the music, the all-round talent. Wilson had done an album of cover versions with a difference: she really brings her own spin to the songs. Wilson first broke through 30 years ago with the 1982 hit “Just What I Always Wanted”. Although she already has an army of fans, hopefully Wilson will come to the attention of an even wider audience now. Wilson had a career artists half her age could only ever dream about. She played Dusty Springfield in Dusty the Musical in 2000. Her brilliant version of Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be With You” is on the album. Her version is slower and more emotional. Wilson’s voice is just absolutely divine; soulful, powerful, emotional. She is a storyteller as well as a singer, and that is the description of what makes a great singer. Wilson had been described as the “British Bette Midler” . That is about right. Buy her new album and have a look at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/mariwilson to get your hands on some of her memorabilia.
frostmagazine.com by Catherine Balavage

Guess what? Mari Wilson, yes, the Queen of Soul from Neasden, is back with a new album, called Cover Stories...
aaamusic.co.uk by Pietro Nastasi
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Guess what? Mari Wilson, yes, the Queen of Soul from Neasden, is back with a new album, called Cover Stories. As the titles suggests, it’s a collection of cover songs, the first in her rich discography. Songs she loves, songs she performed in her live shows. Beautifully arranged and played by composer and pianist Simon Hale, who co-produced it with Mari Wilson herself, the album includes evergreen classics such as First Of May (Bee Gees), Don’t Get Me Wrong (Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders), Dear Someone (Gillian Welch) and modern songs. Forget the 80s, the beehive hairstyle and retro-pop music. Cover Stories It’s an emotional and delicate list of jazz and pop melodies performed with the class of experienced musicians. It’s browsing memories and re-thinking of them under a new lightened and intimately personal light. My favourite moments are Don’t get me wrong with its grooving percussion. The song it’s been sensibly slowed down, leaving space to her memorable soothing voice. And then Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying, almost whispered in your ears while the piano’s melody is beautifully supported by the double bass. In, They Don’t Know her voice becomes nearly untouchable and delicate as a feather slightly moved by the ocean breeze. Cover Stories it’s the right companion for early spring rainy evenings, a perfect soundtrack to a black and white silent melancholic film. On the 3rd of April you can see her presenting the new album at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, London.
aaamusic.co.uk by Pietro Nastasi

For those of a classic vintage, the gravity-defying beehive and swinging 60s stylings...
thedigitalfix.com by Douglas Baptie
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For those of a classic vintage, the gravity-defying beehive and swinging 60s stylings of Mari Wilson were just as much a part of the early 80s Smash Hits scene as some of the more obvious contenders. While never achieving household name status, Wilson has sustained a cult following and a recording career ever since, alongside stage and theatre work - including time on Dusty: The Musical, portraying the artist Wilson is most often compared to. Cover Stories, as the name implies, is her first collection showcasing the work of her long-term influences alongside modern material from the likes of Gillian Welch and Caitlin Rose. Curiously, one standout is her re-imagining of one of the more obvious choices: Springfield's 'I Only Want To Be With You', rescuing it from a decades' worth of talent show mauling by stripping away the surface to leave the bare emotional message. And that's the general approach: just Wilson's timeless voice and basic arrangements of piano, bass or keys that are never in danger of ever running away and which, in less experienced hands, might prove samey but here just pull you in for the duration. Our favourite is the version of Kirsty MacColl's 'They Don't Know', its opening lines ("You've been around for such a long time now / Oh, maybe I could leave you but I don't know how") doubling as a metaphor for a life that has become entwined in the arts - and one which continues to deliver gratifyingly enjoyable new music.
thedigitalfix.com by Douglas Baptie

Mari Magic - Beautiful Album - Mari Wilson from them there eighties!
three reviews from amazon.co.uk
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Mari Magic by Andrew Gilliver In what is only her 5th official release (excluding compilations) in 30 years of making music, Mari Wilson invites you to her own late night supper club where she effortlessly pours out a heartfelt collection of songs which (unusually for her) have all been previously recorded by other artists. It is a testament to Mari's vocal intelligence and musicality that there is not one dud in this set. Ranging from 60's covers to contemporary Nashville and even a Big Audio Dynamite number, every song on this collection is given an intimate and respectful treatment with both truth and integrity. While Mari may be known for a certain retro image and style, here she uncovers new meaning and adds layers of pathos to songs as well known as `Be My Baby' and `I Only Want to Be With You`. Through sublime renditions of `Don't Get Me Wrong' and `They Don't Know', Mari demonstrates the confidence and experience of a singer who has stood her ground against the changing fashions of the music industry to ensure that we, the listener are rewarded with beautiful interpretations of the work of, among others; Ron Sexsmith, Caitlin Rose, Bruce Johnson and The Brothers Gibb, just some of the eclectic choices of writers whose material has been lovingly brought together in one cohesive package. `Disney Girls' , `First of May' and `Dear Someone' are filled with melancholy while `Own Side' and `Right About Now' showcase the singer at her most relaxed and comfortable. The voice itself is rich, smoky and as pure and clear as it always has been .Mari's singing caresses the ears like a pair of velvet slippers soothe your feet. The musicians surrounding Mari also deserve praise as there is a gentle and complimentary pace to these recordings that not once detract from the beautifully crafted performances and add to the intimate nature of these musical stories which will please you like a box of chocolates where the surprise is that there is not one individual treat that you will not enjoy. Things you need for listening to this album: a good pair of headphones, a comfy armchair and something warm and comforting to drink then listen and let Mari's rich and warm vocals waft over you and ensure that whatever the cares of the day have been they will be caressed and sent into the recesses of your mind while Mari's magic looks after your heart and your soul.
Beautiful Album by Alex Trevalyan
It is the sign of a great artist to be able to teat songs as raw material and to create greatness even from mediocre material. Although Mari Wilson has done a lot of cover version, most notably "Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps", this album is a novel concept. She takes well known songs, often upbeat or even trivial numbers and turns them into ballads. In the hands of a minor singer this would a a recipe for disaster akin to Ian McKellen's rendition of "Like a Virgin" or some of the fun songs on "Girl Talk". However, here the result is quite amazing: Mari manages to render "I only wanna be with you" (also sung by Samantha Fox) into a touching song that gives you goose bumps. It is absolutely amazing what she creates with this raw material. The arrangements are minimalistic which is a good thing because it gives room to Mari's amazing voice and the interpretations she gives to the emotions in these songs. Overall this is a beautiful album of a mature singer at the height of her artistic development. The songs are beautiful, very enjoyable and it's a lot of fun to listen to some very good musicians playing around with songs everyone knows and yet creating something new.
It's Mari Wilson from them there eighties! by Mr.H "Mr.H"
Blimey. It's that there Mari Wilson from the eighties. Sans beehive, but with vocal chords still intact, and a brand new album of cover versions, funded through one of the fan funded schemes out there at Pledge Music. Of course, she's never actually went away after her brush with popstardom, but this latest release will, hopefully, bring her back into the public view. It's her first full album of covers, and along with orchestrator and pianist Simon Hale, she's come up with an interesting set of songs, and some stripped back, yet lush and lovely arrangements. For sure, there are some songs you might expect from Ms Wilson, such as 'I Only Want To Be With You', from the Dusty Springfield back catalogue. But for every one of those there's a gem from the Brothers Gibb - 'First Of May', and a startling and beautiful Gerry Marsden song in the shape of 'Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying'. Who knew! Bearing in mind the nature of most of the songs on offer, I would have thought that I would have missed the swell of a strong section, but it's a testament to the work of the people involved that you don't really notice their absence. A couple of the tracks don't benefit from being stripped down and slowed down, but the majority more than do. If you've been wondering where Mari Wilson has been since them there eighties, then this is a good way to begin knowing her all over again.
three reviews from amazon.co.uk

Mari Wilson has enjoyed a career that has spanned three decades and this week she is back with her new album Cover Stories.
femalefirst.co.uk by Helen Earnshaw
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Mari Wilson has enjoyed a career that has spanned three decades and this week she is back with her new album Cover Stories. While Wilson has regularly performed other people’s tracks during live shows she has never recorded a full album of covers until now. But this is not a run of the mill album of songs just lazily covered as Mari Wilson, along with orchestrator and pianist Simon Hale, have put their own spin on these tracks and turned them into something new and fresh. This is a really stripped back album that doesn’t rely much on production at all - there is very personal feel to it. There are no backing vocals, no strings just an acoustic guitar with Wilson’s vocals taking centre stage, this allows audiences to really listen and focus on the lyrics rather then getting swept away with a track that is over produced. Don’t Get Me Wrong is a perfect opening track, as well as being one of the best songs on the album, as Wilson and Hale have slowed the track right down - it really does work so well. They Don’t Know is another stand out track it’s incredibly melodic and Wilson’s vocals are so delicate and gentle. However Be My Baby is a track that, for me, really doesn’t work, the well known upbeat track doesn’t suit being slowed so drastically. In all Cover Stories is a very solid album from Mari Wilson, and it’s great to her tackle these well known songs and really put a new and fresh spin on them. Her vocals are as strong as ever and she really does bring these songs to life.
femalefirst.co.uk by Helen Earnshaw

Mari Wilson brought a sense of fun and panache to eighties pop with a towering beehive hairdo and big production values...
attitude.co.uk by Phil Willmott
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Mari Wilson brought a sense of fun and panache to eighties pop with a towering beehive hairdo and big production values for hits like Just What I’ve Always Wanted, Cry me a River and Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps. These days the beehive has gone and Mari has reinvented herself as a first rate recording artist and accomplished cabaret performer. I’ve directed her several times and the warmth and wit that she brings to all her projects are also the secret to her charmingly self effacing on stage persona. She’s at her best in intimate venues wrapping her smoky, rich and soulful voice around her great taste in songs with simple acoustic accompaniment. The Jazz Cafe in the basement of Pizza Express on Dean Street suits her style perfectly so it was a great place to launch her latest album, Cover Stories, check her website for other forthcoming promotional gigs. The album is unashamedly easy listening but the choice of songs is also adventurous. I love how she reinvents classic numbers inviting you to engage with them in a new way. She takes the Chrissie Hinds hit Don’t Get Me Wrong at a leisurely pace, bringing a depth of emotion to the piece that showcases just how beautiful the lyrics are. Similarly Kirsty MacColl’s They Don’t Know About Us and more surprisingly Hawker and Raymond’s I Only Want to Be With You become haunting torch songs. Her interpretation of less well known songs like Bruce Johnston’s Disney Girls and Ron Sexsmith’s Right About Now make you wonder how you’ve missed them in the past. Mari Wilson really loves and understands the songs she sings, treating the composers and lyricists as her co-stars, and it’s this generosity that make her album of cover versions such a pleasure. Catch her performing them live if you can. VERDICT: **** (Four stars) Beautiful songs simply and soulfully performed by Neasden’s queen of Eighties pop.
attitude.co.uk by Phil Willmott

EMOTIONAL GLAMOUR
BJ/Word Magazine Review
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Over the last few years Nick Lowe has knocked out some cracking songs about love lost and trying to find a new partner in later life.‘Lately I’ve Let Things Slide’, ‘Has She Got A Friend’, ‘Homewrecker’, ‘I Trained Her To Love Me’ etc (I know Mr. Hepworth would agree). Well, the other day I got Mari Wilson’s new album ‘Emotional Glamour’. And I must say it’s great. The lyrics are great. Some painful subjects written with great humour, that is up there with Nick Lowe’s. FOREVER YOUNG (some sample lyrics) I exfoliate and moisturise, Apply the cream around my eyes, A little Botox to freeze my forehead, Now I look like Agnes Moorehead! Osteoporosis causin’ me pain, Enough lines on my face to hold a day’s rain, Is this it for the rest of my life? Cos I don’t want to go under the knife. Pilates, yoga, bingo wings. Bend, stretch, lycra clings. Who’s that girl in the looking glass, With droopy tits and a sagging arse. The album is full of great songs all done with her 50’s style pop sensibilities. Other great themes include KILLING TIME (Sitting up waiting for hubby to come home) HITS AND MISSES (What did I ever see in you?) RIGHT FOR YOU (He’s obviously found someone new - rather quickly) MOVING IN (She’s found someone new) ONLY HUMAN (You used to turn me on, but now you turn on me - lyric) I think you get the point. Anyway, it’s a great album (don’t buy it for the wife) and is probably Mari’s finest. Don’t think she has too much to worry about though. She still looks great.
BJ/Word Magazine Review

THE PLATINUM COLLECTION
www.viewlondon.co.uk
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The beehive queen of retro pop is back and ready to put make copy cats Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen pale into insignificance as audiences hear the real thing. Mari Wilson at Ronnie Scotts will take listeners back to the eighties with her renditions from The Platinum Collection, featuring a selection of her hits that was released in September. Stunning the music scene in the early 80s with her skyscraper hairdo and her 12 piece band the Wilsations, Mari Wilson had a series of catchy iconic hits, such as Cry Me a River and Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps.
See her live and in person this October as she turns back the clock to the glory days of soul.
www.viewlondon.co.uk

DOLLED UP
Sunday Express
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Once the beehive queen of retro-pop, Wilson now emerges as a Radio 2-friendsly cross between Karen Carpenter and Diana Ross. Feather-light ballads, beautifully arranged.
Sunday Express

 
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