Album Review “The Rise And Fall Of Ruby Woo” -The Puppini Sisters


“Old Cape Cod ” By The Puppini Sisters

To start an irregular series of occasional album reviews we kick off with the Puppini Sisters second album “The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo”. We decided to rope in a guest reviewer, on this occasion we were lucky enough to get forces sweetheart 1992-1995, Ms Anna Peska to do the honours …..

The Puppini Sisters – The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo
UK Release Date: 01.10.2007
Universal Jazz

Following on from their ultra successful debut album ‘Betcha Bottom Dollar’, like all charming musical surprises, Marcella, Kate and Stephanie otherwise known as the fabulous The Puppini Sisters deliver a stunning second album amusingly entitled ‘The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo’ (Ruby Woo being a vivid shade of red lipstick which the lovely ladies have a penchant for: – come on MAC cosmetics, sponsor them immediately!).

The Tracks‘Spooky’ a Dusty Springfield/Andy Williams cover opens the album at a full on up-tempo jazzy pace quickly followed the virally infectious Bangles, ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, like you’ve never heard it before. Some beautiful whistling going on there too!

Everyone admittedly (or perhaps not) owns a ‘chill out’ compilation which is guaranteed to have Groove Armada’s ‘At The River’ cunningly disguised as ‘Old Cape Cod’ contained within. The Sisters, with their trademark harmonies manage to relax and lull you into a state of tranquility only to swiftly and painlessly bring you back to life with the wonderfully buoyant ‘Soho Nights’ an original penned by the girls. It tells the tale of many a night spent in London’s more nocturnal and seedy but ‘fun’ districts and features the apt lyric “drinks were dirty like the streets”. Westminster council should take note of this well made observation if I may say so myself!

‘I Can’t Believe (I’m Not a Millionaire’) another original, is a bluesy number with a fantastic guitar solo courtesy of Martin Kolarides. ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing’) is a happy, clappy, foot stomping piece of music (with a few Puppini-esque surprises cleverly segwayed into it) which will lighten the dankest autumnal day. Take That asked us, “Could It Be Magic”, my answer to their question is yes, yes it is magic, The Puppini Sisters conjure up (do you see what I did there)……a brilliant cover, sounding sultry, seductive and sexy(I seem to like using words that start with the letter “s”)yes they achieve all the things that “chubby” Barlow and the boys singularly failed to do!

‘Jilted’ another original, is a song which spookily sounds like the soundtrack to my life. The opening lyric being “I bought another dinner for one” says it all; but that’s enough about me,a song initially about self pity which then turns into a ‘Sisters’ anthem. Next up is ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)’ a bitter-sweet song (depending on the variety of the said apple tree ) originally recorded by the great Glenn Miller and The Andrews Sisters. This, in my opinion is a 1940’s song about the art of stalking.

Personally ‘Crazy In Love’ is one of the stand out tracks on the album. A huge hit for Beyonce (and her gravity defying posterior,) the Puppini’s give this song a truly amazing makeover featuring a fantastic violin solo by the lovely Stephanie, transforming this R&B classic into a foot stomping one might say almost Romany influenced melodic work of art, which you can shake your ‘booty’ to in the privacy of your own home, if you so wish.

‘It’s Not Over (Death of The Toy Piano) tells us the tragic tale of the ‘suicide’ of Kate’s beloved baby piano. I sadly witnessed it stage dive during a gig in London only to shatter into tiny,little, deceased piano pieces. I strongly believe that writing the lyrics to this song acted as ‘therapy’ for its loving owner. The penultimate track on the album; ‘And She Sang’ demonstrates how effortlessly the Puppini’s voices blend to produce quite a haunting number.

‘We Have All The Time In The World’ originally sung by gravel voiced Louis Armstrong (who it appears was sadly misled with regards to how time and mortality work, god rest his soul-VP) ends the album in a creamy smooth sultry, loved up fashion with Marcella ‘doing her thang’ on the accordion.

To cut a very long story short, this second album is beautifully produced and sung with choruses that stay long in the memory. A great mixture of cover versions and original tracks demonstrates the versatility and creativity of The Puppini Sisters They do jazz, they do swing (???… oh…. yes sorry – I understand now.VP) they do pop, they do blues; a truly amazing and varied repertoire from three astoundingly talented ladies!

Expect this album to be filling many a Christmas stocking this year instead of the usual nuts and tangerines!

Anna Peska

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“Sheffield’s Loveliest Band?” Monkey Swallows The Universe Interview

“Little Polvier” By Monkey Swallows the Universe

Not all bands from Sheffield have a Simeon derived moniker, those that do however, are not all noisy little urchins , take Monkey Swallows the Universe for example with their acoustic indie pop. It’s intelligent, its well crafted and its all very lovely and rather moving with songs that cover the whole emotional gamut, love, jealousy, pirates,apathy, imaginary friends, and death ! Their bittersweet tunes have drawn comparisons with the likes of Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura and Mazzy Star. The more you listen to them the more you release what wonderful songs they write ,that this is music from the heart by real people and this is music that matters.

They have been described as as “something special” (Stylus Magazine), “big big news” (Rough Trade), “boss” (Richard Hawley)”Capable of haunting, tear-prickling acoustic beauty…more than worthy of any – and everyone’s respect and attention.” (Drowned In Sound)

Originally a two piece with founding members Nat Johnson and Kev Gori the band expanded in 2005 to feature Catherine Tully on violin, Andy George on cello & Rob Dean on drums.

In 2006 the band released their debut album ‘The Bright Carvings’, with “Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation” , their latest critically acclaimed album “The Casket Letters ” released on Loose records, is out now and to quote the guardian “If they don’t get some sort of mass media coverage and fellatio for this album it could be a good reason to set fire to your passport and move to Sweden.” I would have to concur in the strongest possible terms , its a wonderful album and really should be in any self respecting music fans collection . We had a little natter with this exceptional young band……

VP: How did the current line up come together ?

Nat: “We met Cate, Rob and Andy through the same bunch of friends that had forced me and Kev to play gigs in the first place!”

VP: MSTU ? Isn’t that the name of an episode from the old and reassuringly bonkers Japanese show “Monkey”? Are you fans ? Have you seen Albarn’s Operas based on the legend/TV Show ?

Nat:” Kev and I are fans – we were watching it when forming the band. We think Albarn owes us free tickets to his show”

VP: Your latest album “The Casket Letters” has just been released did you find recording it easier than the first album “The Bright Carvings”

Rob: “It was very similar actually, both were recorded in a bit of a hurry although the actual recording time was spread out a bit more this time. There’s a lot more instrumentation going on on this album, the first one was basically Nat & Kev’s guitars then little bits the rest of us have added (Cate, Andy and I had not been in the band for very long at that point), while the new record has a much more ‘full band’ sound. The recording was all quite straightforward though, no major disagreements!”

Andy: “It was recorded piece by piece a few songs at a time and then fitted painstakingly together at the end. The instrumentation was more comprehensive this time and therefore it was often more complex to record although we had more experience after the first album and Alan Smyth at 2fly had worked with us before and so knew what to expect. It’s always enjoyable playing around in the studio!”

VP: You have been called “”Sheffield’s loveliest band” and your sound has been called “ravishing” , how would you describe it ?

Andy: “Folky indie-pop.”
Cate: “Melodic and pretty but usually contemplative about dark things like death.”

VP: What or whom take your fancy from the current music scene?

Andy: “The Howling Bells and Au Revoir Simone.”
Rob: “David Thomas Broughton, Fanfarlo, Richard Hawley, The Arcade Fire, Muse, Joanna Newsome, The Decemberists, The Shins, Bright Eyes
Sheffield bands: Smokers Die Younger, Fury of the Headteachers, Champion Kickboxer.”

VP: If music is the food of love who would you say are the indigestion ?

Andy: “The Horrors. Little Man Tate.”
Cate: “James Blunt”

VP: Aren’t two of you qualified primary school teachers ? What do you teach , any plans for Jack Black “School of Rock ” type lessons?

Cate: “Yes, I’m a primary school teacher and although it’d be fun to do a Jack Black type lesson, there isn’t much chance during the school day as there is so much to cover already. Maybe one day though…”
Andy: “Yes – Primary so a bit of everything. I use our music in lessons sometimes but it’s pretty hard to teach the cello to 30 kids at the same time!”

VP: Reality TV ? a great way to spend a night in or the televisual equivalent of removing your brains via your ears with a knitting needle ?

Andy: “The latter”

VP: Txt spk ? RU4 or against ?

Cate: “Against, what’s the point of writing ‘woz’? It has the same number of letters as the proper spelling. Get it right. ”
Rob: “Absolutely against. You don’t even need it in texts anymore cos of predictive text.”
Andy: “4 but not in the classroom!”

VP: Highlights of your time together thus far ?

Andy: “Festivals”
Nat: “Yeah, definitely the festivals, though we’re sick of camping now!!”

VP: What have been your favourite films of the year ?

Cate: “Blades of Glory”
Andy: “Hot Fuzz”

VP: Pick five of the most ridiculous words in the English language (eg. Johnny Borrell is a genius)

Andy: “Iraq is better off now”



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“Science” By Monkey Swallows The Universe

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