There's no one quite like Jimmy Somerville. I can't think of any male singer so accomplished at this kind of falsetto, with the exception of maybe David McAlmont. His vocals manage to sound pure, honest and opulent at the same time. He first appeared in 1983 with Bronski Beat, releasing one of the most important songs of the 1980's, Smalltown Boy. From 1985-88 he was the singer for the Communards, who had another round of hits before he went solo, releasing only four albums in the last 20 years, including 1995's brilliant Dare To Love.
Jimmy's been out of the spotlight for five years and he's been sorely missed. In May, his new album, Suddenly Last Summer, will be released digitally (only). It features 11 cover songs, including versions of Hanging On The Telephone, People Are Strange, Where Have All The Flowers Gone and Motherless Child. On some level, of course, I'd prefer original compositions, but it's fair to say some of his best songs are covers. Suddenly's producer, Andrew Worboys, says:
The new album is very stripped back; we used only a few instruments. Jimmy was very keen to record some of his favourite songs, but wanted to give them a twist and present them in a new way. Jimmy came to my house in the forest for a week, where he searched the internet for the songs he loved. Then we workshopped them around the piano... and we went into a studio in the mountains surrounded by bush.
You can preview two of the songs, Sweet Unknown and the old standard It's Love, on his myspace. His voice remains flawless.
XO's Top Ten Plus One Jimmy Somerville Songs (in no order except that the first one is truly my favorite)
Safe In These Arms
Never Can Say Goodbye
Dream Gone Wrong
Someday We'll Be Together
From This Moment On
Hold On Tight**
It Still Hurts
* with Bronski Beat
** with Communards
Note that the German fansite for Jimmy is a great source for updates. If you've not yet heard You And Me, his 2008 song with Blue Ray, watch the cheesy non-Jimmy video now.
Bronski Beat Smalltown Boy (live):