Thu, Feb 24, 2005 - Page 15 News List

CD Reviews

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sure, you might not find her vocal prowess as sexy or sultry as that of other female acts, but Wan Fang remains one of the few songstresses in Taiwan who can hold a tune and, more importantly, who writes her own material.

The Great Leap Forward 2005 (太平盛世) marks the end of a two-year hiatus for Taiwan's popular Mando-R&B star, David Tao (陶吉吉).

Rumored to be the first part of a trilogy of albums that will see Tao exploring "new and exciting musical directions," some of the tunes are a far cry from his more mainstream studio releases such as 2002's hit Black Tangerine (黑色柳丁).

To create his new sound, Tao has teamed up with a host of performers, songwriters and studio gurus including leggy classical crossover female ensemble 12 Girls Band (女子十二樂坊) and acclaimed producer Chu Jing-ran (朱敬然).

The result of these musical couplings has enabled Tao to mix and match various contrasting musical genres. None of the album's 13 tunes follow the same musical path and, while there's still an underlying R&B/soul feel to many of the numbers, the creative collaborations have paid dividends.

Tao successfully blends rock, R&B and Mando-pop basics with elements of classical Beijing Opera and electronica. Tracks like the weird and wonderful opener Ghost Overture () and Tao's sorrowful tribute to Anita Mui (梅艷芳), Song for Anita (她的歌), make for pleasant listening.

The highlight of the album, however, is the marvelous piece of 70s glam-rock, Sula & Lampa (Sula Lampa 的寓言). Best described as Mando-rock's answer to The Ballroom Blitz, The tune's retro-chic will probably be lost on Tao's multitude of teenybopper fans, but it will leave those old enough to remember the likes of Sweet reaching for their bell-bottoms and platform shoes.

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