Tim Rose,
The London Sessions 1978-1998
(Market Square, 2003)

Tim Rose was a major player in music for four decades and has a vast loyal following on many continents. His death in 2002 was a major blow to lovers of good music and top-class performances.

The good news is that there is more of Tim Rose to be experienced. This eclectic collection of his work spanning 20 years can serve as an introduction for new listeners and also a retrospective for existing fans.

His delivery is laidback but with latent passion. The songs can be listened to with intensity or as a beautiful background. And the range of material is fantastic.

Opening with "Like a European" in a distinctly rock 'n' roll style, he then draws us into the lovely Bee Gees hit "I Started a Joke." "The Rose" will be imprinted in many minds with a visual of Bette Midler. Listen to Tim Rose sing it and prepare for a new picture.

It is amazing how he seems to reclaim some ladies songs for male interpretation. Prepare to jettison your image of Judy Garland as well if you listen to Rose reinvent "Over the Rainbow."

Listening to this CD I am conscious that it is almost impossible to categorise. He takes folk, then pop and adds standards. But he makes them all into contemporary folk through his genius for giving a new and deep meaning to tunes that we are almost tired of hearing when sung by others.

Give a few minutes to a raspy-voiced "I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore." Play it alongside the original Buddy Holly and you have two distinct songs. Not that all tracks cover well-known songs. My particular favourite is a track that I never heard before. "Pavement Princess" is a lovely sad story song that fits well with Rose's distinctive voice.

Many of the new songs are written or co-written by Pierre Tubbs, some of them with Rose.

For the listeners who like their songs from the Readers Digest and Disney mould, give a listen to "Lady's Coming Home for Christmas." It just begs to be made into a Hallmark movie.

One of the strongest songs on the album reminds me of the best of blues music. "Hey Joe" is hard to beat. It has a strong tale and great performance. The CD ends with "The Answer."

On 12 tracks recorded over two decades, Rose reminds us of some of the great music that is out there and shows us that a good performer can make any song new and exciting. I recommend this album very highly.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 13 March 2004