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20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading

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Album Review

The Joan Armatrading entry in Universal's discount-priced compilation series 20th Century Masters — The Millennium Collection is a reduction of the 1996 Greatest Hits set, containing 12 of its predecessor's 19 tracks. Concentrating on the 1975-1983 period of the singer/songwriter's career and culling tracks from six of her 13 studio albums for A&M Records (plus one song from an EP), the retrospective is faced with the challenge of integrating Armatrading's stylistic shifts during the period. Her '70s albums, produced by Gus Dudgeon and Glyn Johns, were folk-pop efforts that brought her a fervent cult following, but in the '80s she turned to more rock-oriented producers Richard Gottehrer and Steve Lillywhite, and made records that reflected the influence of new wave music. Compilation producer Mike Ragogna deals with this by sequencing the material in roughly reverse chronological order, so that it begins with the hard-rocking numbers "Drop the Pilot" and "Me Myself I" and ends with the folkie ballads like "Willow" and "Love and Affection." In either style, Armatrading proves to be a versatile alto singer and an original, affecting songwriter, equally accomplished at sensitive tales of romantic conflict like "The Weakness in Me" and tongue-in-cheek satires like "I Love It When You Call Me Names," which starts out sounding like a first-person account of female masochism, only to turn out to be the ardent plea of a "short, short man" to his favorite dominatrix. ("It's their way of loving, not mine," the songwriter finally pipes up.) Although it contains some of Armatrading's best-known songs, the album is only a sampler. It may serve as a modestly priced way for neophytes to get a sense of her work, but those who are already fans will find it an inadequate summing up of her recording career.

Customer Reviews

Beautiful

I just had to find out who sang "The Weakness In Me," after hearing it during the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Joan has such a cool voice, and it is a beautiful song. I am so glad that I was able to buy this song. I'm going to buy more of her music now.

Great

Everyone should get this is a master piece

Aweful (not awe filled)

Genius recommended this to me based upon my Sister Hazel purchase. Dead Wrong! This is a masterpiece of dread.

Biography

Born: December 9, 1950 in Basseterre, St. Kitts

Genre: Pop

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

Born in 1950 on the island of St. Kitts, British singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading was her country's — as well as Britain's — first woman to make commercial inroads into her chosen genre, spicing her take on folk with elements of rock, blues, and jazz, and has had a remarkably long, consistent career. Armatrading immigrated to England in 1958 and began writing songs six years later. In 1970, she met lyricist Pam Nestor at a touring production of Hair, and the two began collaborating...
Full Bio