Album review: Tony Christie – Now’s The Time
Several ago Tony Christie was soaking up the sun in his Spanish home, funding his lifestyle with royalties from long forgotten hits and the odd appearance on the chicken in a basket circuit. Then something rather wonderful happened. Hipsters began spinning his Tom Jones at the movies type tunes like the incomparable Avenues and Alleyways in clubs, fellow Sheffield son Jarvis Cocker got him singing on a one-off single and some bloke called Peter Kay was hatching plans for a Comic Relief video.
In 2011 then Tony Christie has gone from cabaret club mainstay to hip purveyor of 60s style soul/mod pop – for the first time in years Christie is cool. A couple of years back he released the superb Made in Sheffield album which featured a collection of songs born in the city. It was a great artistic success with Christie’s soaring voice endowing Javis Cocker’s Born to Cry with epic status and turning The Human League’s Louise into a wonderfully bittersweet piano-driven ballad.
With Now’s The Time, an album that Christie rates as the best he has ever produced, it is pretty much all new stuff, and unlike Made in Sheffield, which was a little disparate given the number of songwriters on duty, it flows brilliantly. This is top class 60s influenced soul delivered by one of the most distinctive voices in the business.
The best tracks though are still the collaborations. 7 Hills is a country style soul duet (albeit with an electronic back beat) with Roisin Murphy, the golden voice of Moloko. Then there’s the frankly bizarre Get Christie which features a sample from Roy Budd’s soundtrack to Get Carter with some great Jarvis Cocker penned lyrics.
Nobody in the World is just a great classic sounding pop song, while the album’s pounding finale Something Better descends into a genuine 60s style soul freak out.
Personally I still think Sheffield might just be Christie’s finest moment, but it is great to have him back and this is one hell of an album.