Sound of Poetry
A two-CD release for a pair of albums that British DJ/songwriter Mike Read put together around his love of the poems of Sir John Betjeman, Sound of Poetry features the Knight's words, Read's music, and a host of guest vocalists that ranges from Marc Almond and Cliff Richard to Jon Anderson, Don McLean, and even Captain Sensible. Add Steve Harley, Gene Pitney, Leo Sayer, Colin Blunstone, Donovan, and Alvin Stardust to the brew, a hit single by David Essex, and even some George Martin orchestration, and you are looking at an incredibly ambitious and beautifully realized collection, not to mention one of those extraordinarily rare moments when pop sensibility and poetic beauty truly come together. Yes there are some moments that border on the saccharine, but there are also some incredibly stirring pieces too, highlighted by Almond's so-emotive rendering of "Narcissus" and Blunstone's characteristically lovelorn "In Memory." Thirty songs do make for a somewhat overstuffed feast, which is presumably why the two albums were originally released separately. It must also be said that disc two is considerably weaker than its twin, both in terms of performers and poems. But the overall package is an unexpected joy regardless.