CD, Section 44, 2005
Dead Or Alive might strike some as another headstone in the eighties graveyard, exhumed for the electro revival – a one-hit wonder who might offer a second passing fancy to a new generation of synthesiser-obsessed glamourpusses. To anoraks and people who were actually there, the songs of Pete Burns are glorious, simple explorations into dark sexual themes under a veneer of pop plasticity. This covers CD, from Section 44, offers reworkings of DOA that are just as enjoyable as the originals, and reflect the inherent strength of the band’s songwriting.
Opening with “Isn’t it a pity” a decidedly queer vibe is set with lyrics that amuse where they might once have shocked and delivered almost operatically in a crescendo of orgiastic indulgence – writhing synths and dry snares supporting it. “Black Leather” continues the theme with heavily affected vocals and sleazy bubbling keys grinding agains an almost uncertain refrain.
Baxendale’s “Come Home” is my pick from the compilation – a Marc Almond-styled lead camps it up to funky artificial bass – glitch-styled skipping effects displacing this vocal and the overall electro-disco feel unsettlingly. The Alfa-Matrix styled EBM of “My Heart goes Bang” by Fr/Action is one disappointment, with its cold sliding lead line and vocoding, it’s completely deadpan. Eurodance in the most over the top style is the medium for Tristraum’s “Baby don’t say Goodbye” and makes for the second choicest cut of the disc… for all its pop excess it’s emotive, the production is smooth – polishing bittersweet, femme vocals and pattering percussion.
The reflective Shadow Valley’s “Something in My House” is a departure from club tracks with plastic drum machine kick and pulsing rounded bass and soft harmonies, while Electroluv’s “What I need” returns to the electro vein in a completely dissonant fashion. Finally, the most well-known DOA track, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Spray is a little disappointing in that the hook is really played down, but the song is huge-sounding, ideal for club play.
Overall, this tribute album is much like Pete Burns and his original music – at times fun and outrageous, at times dark and avant-garde, at times very pretty and also very ugly, but always unashamedly so.
— James Ryan