Martinis & Bikinis
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
The pairing of singer/songwriter Sam Phillips and producer/auteur T Bone Burnett wasn’t a romantic match made in heaven (the married couple divorced five years after this 1994 album was released) but it sure was a musical one. Burnett pulls every Beatle-esque trick out of his bag to make Phillips’ edgy pop rock (and not surprisingly a John Lennon cover) jump out of the speakers. It’s the perfect combination of dazzling, often psychedelically oriented songs, sharply observed but never cloying lyrics and a producer’s Technicolor vision that enhances both. The couple is aided by some stellar players (Peter Buck, XTC’s Colin Moulding, Marc Ribot, Van Dyke Parks, and half of Lone Justice, among others) for a stunning set that is the highlight of both Burnett’s and Phillips’ careers. Cheers to Omnivore for not only resurrecting this lost gem, but adding four more tracks. One of those, a lovely, newly recorded, string quartet enhanced “Strawberry Road,” shows how attached Phillips still is to this remastered near classic that sounds better today than it did 18 years ago.
(Collectors note-the reissue is also available on vinyl, a format it had not been previously released on.)