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The Rough With the Smooth (Bonus Track Version)

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Albumrecension

Broken English broke big in Britain with their catchy but quirky "Comin' on Strong" single in 1987. That Top 20 hit was followed by the far less successful "Love on the Side" which barely nicked the Top 70. So far, so one-hit wonder, but there was more to BE's story than meets the eye.

There were the rumors that swept around that there was a Rolling Stones connection. The truth was even stranger, for Steve Elson recorded "Strong" as a bit of a laugh for his Stones' cover band. Broken English itself was only cobbled together after the fact, with album sessions doubling as auditions for a drummer. And then it all went wrong. "Side" was quickly withdrawn from airplay when it was discovered that its B-side was written by a Radio One DJ's brother. The third single garnered even less airplay, and the band's projected album was shelved. By 1989, the band was finished too. Now fans can hear the album in all its glory, bolstered by a further quartet of bonus tracks, and try to work out for themselves just what Elson was attempting to accomplish. For as he himself explains in the expansive booklet, the artist was no industry novice, having worked as a record plugger, tour manager, and band agent. Surely Elson must have realized that after hitting with a Stonesy pop song, the album should have reflected that fact. Even when you one make out the Keef and Mick connection within, there are far too few driving rock numbers, while the rest bury their influence under a Western twang, overly lush arrangements, and a way-too-clean production. This is the sound of the Stones rubbed smooth and polished to a gleam. Still, there's no doubting Elson's songwriting ability, a talent he's put to good use over the years. Back in the '80s, EMI probably made the right call, but now so have Angel Air for releasing this still-intriguing set.

The Rough With the Smooth (Bonus Track Version), Broken English
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