“We’ve always been proud of Amplified Heart. It’s both close to the bone - understandable given it’s background - but also gentle in it’s touch, and shot through with resilience. The newly mastered pressing sounds amazing - as good as the original tapes.” - Ben Watt
After spending most of the previous decade churning out various shades of glossy sophistipop and R&B, Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn stripped it back and returned to the unplugged sounds that typified their beautifully simple early work for 1994’s Amplified Heart. While previous albums explored new sounds with varying results, Amplified Heart signifies both a commercial and creative breakthrough for Everything But The Girl (Thorn: “I think it’s a real rebirth record, the moment we got our mojo back”), written in the wake of Watt’s near-death experience from a rare auto-immune disease in 1992 that finds the duo in rare form, trading “raw unflinching stories of love and isolation, that often disarm with their candour.” Amplified Heart is largely acoustic, but you can hear tasteful flourishes of synth and drum machines, as if their folky heartfelt pop was being singed around the edges by the contemporaneous acid jazz scene. This was also around the time the duo was working with Massive Attack on Protection, so it feels like sort of an acoustic companion to that record. “Missing” is the big single here, made even bigger by Todd Terry’s humongous club mix (listening to both versions back to back reveals the genius of all parties involved), but we’ve got a big soft spot for “Rollercoaster.” Amazingly, for 1994, there was never a vinyl pressing of the album released, not even in the UK (not sure what was going on down at Atlantic Records; I bet they thought they were real cute for that). This first-ever official vinyl edition of the record is released on Ben and Tracey’s own Buzzin’ Fly imprint, with a fresh half-speed remaster cut at Abbey Road to celebrate the album’s 25th anniversary. True to the original album, this edition contains only the original ten tracks and leaves off bonus tracks which were tacked on to subsequent CD reissues (you don’t want the Todd Terry mix squeezed onto a 10-track LP anyway, get the 12”!). Regarding the album art: “Buzzin Fly acquired the rights to the album from Warner Music in 2017, but Warner had lost or disposed of original photography. As a result, the new front cover was sourced from the original photographer who did not have the exact frame but was able to provide the near-identical one taken a fraction of a second later.” Recommended.
- 180g black vinyl pressing
- first time on vinyl
- half-speed remaster cut at Abbey Road Studios
- music label: Buzzin Fly Records LTD 2019
reviewed by Isosceles Kramer 05/2019