McALMONT & BUTLER The Sound Of McAlmont & Butler (Hut/Virgin)
McAlmont & Butler's career arc was brief but brilliant. Guitarist Bernard Butler had left Suede after co-authoring that band's still-finest hour, the Lloyd Webber-meets-Ziggy Stardust flourish of "Dog Man Star". Singer David McAlmont had an unhappy stint as half of Thieves and a solo album behind him. Together they made music that sounded like soap opera beamed from outer space, McAlmont swooping and keening tales of break-up and make-up with the voice of a camp Jeff Buckley veering off towards Aretha Franklin territory, whilst Butler wrapped the words in the finest tunes he's ever penned.
"Yes" has to be the best put-down of an ex-lover that rock history has yet offered the legions of the dumped, and every other McAlmont & Butler song aspired to its greatness, albeit with varying levels of success. "Although", "How About You" and "Tonight?" slither in cocktail lounge sassiness, "What's The Excuse This Time?" bounces from staccato nod to knowing wink. A cover of "You'll Lose A Good Thing" works marvellously, McAlmont testifying over a lone Hammond organ. It's only when proceedings slide towards rockist excess - "The Right Thing", the aptly named "Disappointment" - does "The Sound Of McAlmont & Butler", er, disappoint.
Naturally, their volatile chemistry, inflamed by a thorny relationship with the music press, couldn't last. "The Sound Of McAlmont & Butler" gathers up everything they ever released in one convenient package, and it's just enough to make you wish there was more.