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Spirit of St. Louis

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Album Review

Ellen Foley evidently yearned to do something with more gristle than the rockist sturm und drang of her solo debut, Night Out. She got her wish, although titles like "The Death of the Psychoanalyst of Salvador Dali" surely puzzled fans who heard her breathless guest vocal on "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." Ironically, the press focused more on the assistance rendered by Foley's steady, Clash guitarist Mick Jones (whose production is credited to "my boyfriend"). His other Clash-mates also appear, as do members of Ian Dury's backing band, the Blockheads; this impressive array of talent gives the album a unity it might otherwise lack. Jones and fellow Clash-mate Joe Strummer co-wrote six songs. The standout is "Torchlight," a duet with Foley on which Jones drops some characteristically glistening guitar. "The Shuttered Palace" and "Theatre of Cruelty" also work well, logically upholding the Sandinista! era's dense, intricate wordplay. The other Strummer/Jones efforts are less distinctive. "Salvador Dali" is little more than an impenetrable grocery list of free associations, "In the Killing Hour" is a sketchy throwaway that needed a stronger arrangement, and "M.P.H."'s bumptious pub rock is fun listening, but hardly a classic. Strummer's old busking mate, Tymon Dogg, contributes three killer tunes himself: his affectionate "Beautiful Waste of Time" is the best one, bolstered by an inspired Payne sax line. (The song originally appeared on Dogg's 1976's self-released Outlaw Number One album.) Foley is less convincing on a stiff remake of "My Legionnaire," but fares better on her own propulsive original, "Phases of Travel." The sound is lush and dreamy, although a little more consistent material and less artsiness would have gone a long way. Clash fans impatient for the old three-chord thunder couldn't stifle their yawns, so the album bombed — but the rewards are there, if you care to listen.


Born: 05 June 1951 in St. Louis, MO

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Ellen Foley is an actress and singer who first gained recognition singing opposite Meat Loaf on his epic song, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." This led her to a record contract with Epic Records and the release of three albums which were influenced by Foley's boyfriend of the time, Mick Jones of the Clash, who produced and...
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Spirit of St. Louis, Ellen Foley
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