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Anni Hogan - Kickabye

Anni Hogan (formerly Annie Hogan) is no doubt familiar to many of our readers for her work with Marc Almond. Following his split from Soft Cell she was to become his key writing partner featuring as part of the Mambas and as with La Magia, his backing group for much of his solo material. This expanded version of Kickabye features Anni's original debut EP, together with related material including her second single, demos from the late eighties, and other associated tracks. Four (or maybe three) compositions written for Marc Almond have been newly recorded in 2008 for this release.

Kickabye her debut 12-inch EP dates from 1985 and features an illustrious cast of artists who were knocking around with Stevo and his Some Bizarre label during this period. Originally released on Paul Smith (now Blast First supremo) and Cabaret Voltaire's Double Vision label Annie Hogan Plays Kickabye appears in its entirety, with a reordered track list. Opening with 'Vixo' Annie mixes big blues barroom chords to the faux deep southern drawl of a young(ish) sounding Nick Cave. With its strings and harmonica it really falls into Bad Seeds territory. 'Burning Boats' is pretty good too. To stabbing piano chords and sweeping and slicing strings Marc Almond steps in with a wavering and emotive vocal. 'Burning Boats' reappears as an extra track in a Foetus Drum Version which further heightens the urgency. The rampant drumming and incessant strings ably match Almond's frantic and desperate tones. It's excellent stuff. Anni's own contributions, like 'Burning Boats', are based on the poetry of Jessamy Calkin. '(Just Like) Drowning Kittens' features (the Banshees) Budgies' bluesy harmonica and slight jazzy drumming while 'Executioners Song (Kickabye)' is a fine slice of melodrama setting Anni's highly optimistic vocal to mordant piano chords and slight double bass movements. 'Delirious Eyes', a previously unreleased track from the Kickabye sessions, is much more experimental and psychedelic with Gini Ball's featherlight voice hovering over acoustic guitars, while studio trickery surrounds the strings and voice.

The other unreleased tracks on disc one such as 'Hopes and Fears' and 'Wasting Time' are much more pop oriented with an eighties sheen of keyboards and synthetic orchestration, with 'Wasting Time' picking up the melodrama of Marc Almond with an appealing track on the perils of unrequited love. 'Fleurs Doll' is a sort of surreal exotica piece with bird calls and a dreamy piano score, taken from an album by Deux Files, a project involving Simon Fisher Turner and Colin Tucker.

Even though Marc Almond wasn't too kind to Anni Hogan in his biography, Tainted Life, Hogan returns to her work with Marc Almond with four solo piano pieces recorded in 2008 including 'Blood Tide' (Violent Silence), and the tender score of 'The Hustler' (Mother Fist). 'Margaret' her solo piece from the Mamba's Untitled remains alarmingly faithful to the original recording while 'The Frost Comes Tomorrow' (The Stars We Are) is almost unrecognisable as it is transformed back into a beautiful piano piece with the gentle sighs of Katy Smith.

The second disc collects a number of unreleased demos from the eighties, along with her second single and a track recorded with Yello. Reminiscent of Strawberry Switchblade, tracks like 'A Place To Belong' and 'Everything We Do' sparkle with a glorious eighties synthetic production of keyboards, trumpets and sugar coated girl-pop melodies. Ex-Magazine/former Bad Seed Barry Adamson is at the controls on Anni's second single 'Story So Far' and 'Each Day' lending the music a much more orchestral approach, though at times I can hear elements of Matt Johnsons' The The circa Heartland. The final track, 'Blue Nabou', is a wonderfully rhythmic piece taking in electro, funk, film-noir, which originally appeared on the flipside of the Yello single 'Vicious Games'.

This expanded reissue representing the solo work of Anni Hogan during the eighties is as comprehensive as it could be to. The inclusion of guest tracks and rerecordings are perhaps an unnecessary addition. Kudos to Cold Spring who stuck their neck out for this one, as Kickabye has always been a great wee EP. Hogan's second single and the demos are also a bit of an eyeopener and worthy of the interest of anyone into girl-pop. And who cares if some of these songs are of there time as where else you gonna find a release that includes Nick Cave, Marc Almond, Budgie, Foetus, Simon Fisher Turner, Zeke Manyika, Barry Adamson, Yello... Stevo of Some Bizarre must be kicking himself for missing out on this reissue. For more information go to