Sunday, September 16, 2007

Glorious: The Singles 1997-2007 - Natalie Imbruglia

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Yes, she really has been going for 10 years, but no with only 10 singles in that time (including title track Glorious, which was one of the customary new tracks on such an album) and only three albums is there really a clamour for a Natalie Imbruglia singles collection?

Way back in 1998, thanks to my erstwhile flatmate of the time Duncan, Natalie Imbruglia was quite the "in" thing. Indeed rare was the night playing Doom on the Playstation that Left On The Middle didn't get a spin on the CD player. Since that time though, I've had no real interest in the former Beth Brennan. Sure there would be the occasional moment when a new single came out and I alternated between "oh is she still carrying on" and "that's alright but not something I'd want to buy."

At least Imbruglia had the sense, on a recent appearance with Graham Norton, to admit that this wasn't a "greatest hits" but rather a "singles collection". Not that success hasn't been achieved in the UK with 5 top 10 hits but with Imbruglia I've often got the feeling that success, in itself, isn't what it's about for her. She wants respect and to be seen as a real musician.

Which kind of went tits up when the hit that introduced her to the world, Torn, was revealed to not even be an original song. Imbruglia claimed that she'd never said it was, but by the same token she was quite happy to let people think that.

Even now, almost a decade on, Torn is still a fantastic single though. And in fact it's probably too good for her to ever match; it certainly is the best thing on here by a fair distance. It's not the most interesting thing mind you, that honour would go to Smoke which for a brief moment suggested that there may have been more to Imbruglia that the ex-soap pop princess hype machine would suggest.

Sadly the other tracks from Left Of The Middle haven't aged as well. Wishing I Was There is so formulaic that it could have been done by anyone from Meredith Brooks to Alisha's Attic whilst Big Mistake makes you wonder if Kurt Cobain's revolution was all for nothing.

Follow up album White Lilies Island bombed if we're being honest and That Day and Beauty On The Fire show you why. They're not terrible but not tracks that I had any real memory of and "pleasant but forgettable" must be one of the harshest things you can say about a record. Wrong Impression isn't much better, but I at least remembered it so that counts for something.

Third album Counting Down The Days quite inexplicably reached number one in the UK charts, although Shiver, it's lead single, is definitely the best thing that isn't Torn on this collection. We return to averageness with the title track from that album.

Recent single Glorious is one of 5 new tracks and again follows the nice enough, but not memorable trajectory that most of Imbruglia's career has followed. But as Be With You, another of the new tracks, shows occasionally she can create something truly special. It's just a pity she doesn't do it more often and as a result, she's never likely to get the respect as a serious artist that she so obviously desires.

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