Some are sure to question the wisdom of anybody re-creating Todd classics as quasi-elevator music, much less Todd himself. There's no escaping it: this is a 180-degree turn away from rap-heavy grooves of TR-i's last two U.S. albums. The Wizard has re-recorded ten songs (eight written by TR and two covers) in "lounge" style easy-listening, with an accent on bossa-nova. Sounds like a pretty awful idea, right? I was all prepared to hate the album, too. I'd rather have some new music after the latest "Very Best of" anthology and "Up Against It" demos, none of which contain anything recorded in the last half-decade or so.
Except...."With a Twist" sounds really cool.
Todd's singing is absolutely wonderful, and his background vocals have never sounded more luxurious. As a whole, the album is like one long sip of cream soda (at least until the genuinely creepy remake of "Hello It's Me," which isn't likely to make anybody forget about the hit version). Some tracks, such as "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference," benefit from a significantly different approach (it's zestier than the S/A classic, kind of like a Gloria Estefan song only much better), while songs like "Fidelity" and "Influenza" aren't markedly different from the originals.
Of particular interest are two covers: "Never Never Land," first covered on AWATS, and "I Want You," which Todd has been performing live for many years. Both are quite nice and smooooooooth, like the rest of the album. Rounding out the package are remakes of "I Saw the Light," "A Dream Goes On Forever," and Utopia's "Love Is the Answer" and "Mated."
Call it "Deface the Muzak" if you must (and some will). But I quite enjoyed hearing these new interpretations.
Now, how about some new music?