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Mark Wirtz Ear Theatre


Love is Eggshaped: The Soundtrack




Mark Wirtz Ear Theatre CD coverLove is Eggshaped is the companion CD to the book Love Is Eggshaped Mark Wirtz is an artist that influenced many others throughout the 60s and 70s. This record is his first new work in many years.

Not only does this CD bring the formidable talent of Mark Wirtz out of retirement, but he enlisted two generations of the Rivers family on harmony vocals - Tony Rivers (of Tony Rivers and the Castaways / Harmony Grass fame) and his (adult) son Anthony Rivers. The two also harmonize on the Saint Etienne CD Tales From Turnpike House. The best work they do on this CD is on Learning 2 Live With Love, which appears in two versions on the CD.

Most of the Music on the CD sounds like Supertramp, Robert Wyatt or 10cc. The main problem (aside from syrupy ballads) are the vocals by Mark Wirtz. I don't think he ever sang on his records before. His singing mars many of the tracks on this record. It is a situation similar to that of Burt Bacharach. There are some records where he sings his songs before they were made famous by other more capable vocalists. It is incredible how much the other vocalists could add to the impact of the songs.

The CD opens up with Love is Eggshaped, with backing vocals kind of like Sweet Love is Like Oxygen. Saving It for a Rainy Day has a sound like chirping crickets for its upbeat rhythm. These opening songs might have been aces, except for Mark's vocals.

Vocally, One Night Stand has tones of Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh. The chorus strengthens the song considerably (but not quite enough) with Brian May / Tom Scholtz Rockman / Big Country styled sustained guitar. This same Queen - styled guitar shows up later in the disc on Farewell Lullaby. So Do I has a sweeping synth sound and Bonding has electric piano - both as you may hear from a wedding / prom band when they play a ballad. Breakup is an instrumental with an oriental feel. Cradle Me has lyrics about wishing to return to childhood, a la Toyland, from the 1934 Laurel & Hardy movie Babes in Toyland. Closing track In the Eyes of Love has a vocal melody similar to Eagles Desperado.

Some of this isn't sounding so good? Well, there are some songs that most Mark Wirtz fans will love and two that ANYONE should love.

I'm Impressed has Mark Wirtz listing various whimsical things that impress him, ultimately saying that nothing impresses him like the girl he is singing the song to. This girl - Nicole Wirtz - answers by "rapping" a litany of band names and pop culture references that she suggests may impress him more than her.

Withdrawal has vocals by The Ladybirds (Maggie Stredder, Kay Garner and Vicki Robinson), singing like backing vocalists for Heaven 17. The song doesn't have any Mark Wirtz vocals, and its 2:35 runs out way too quickly - this one's a gem!

This CD might have been better served if the connection between it and the companion book were made clearer. Anyone who remembers Mark Wirtz's Teenage Opera will assume this is another period piece dug up from obscurity, especially as it appears on the reissue label Rev-Ola. The fact is that this is brand new material recorded to go along with a book he wrote. The only mention of the book is made in very small print at the bottom of the back cover of the booklet that comes in the CD case: "For optimum enjoyment of this audiograph, read the Love Is Eggshaped illustrated book, to which this music presentation is the soundtrack."

Faves: 1,2,5,7,8,12,13

---Carl, August 22, 2005