DUKE SPECIAL – Portrait (10″ EP)

Portrait CoverV2 VVR5042610: 7th August 2006
1. Portrait
“Clumsy as a ragtime clown, or some dancing Frankenstein, well darling, your broken art was never on my mind”
2. Feet In The Sky
“And where you been kid, you say you’re over six feet tall, but that didn’t stop you going up the wall”
3. Maps (Live At The Empire Music Hall, Belfast)
“Wait… they don’t love you like I love you”
4. Low (Live At The Empire Music Hall, Belfast)
“Mercy you, and mercy me, you’re still in love, in spite of me”

This is my first encounter with Belfast’s Duke Special (aka Peter Wilson), but he’s already released a number of albums, EPs and singles (You can buy them from his site). The most obvious comparison is Rufus Wainwright, musically anyway. Rufus’ image fits his music, but Duke’s is a cross between Mick Hucknall and Robert Smith. But hey, here’s to confounding expectations.

The first side of ‘Portrait’ is recorded at 78rpm, which at first seems an odd choice. But it soon becomes clear that playing the song on an old Gramophone would be the most appropriate way to hear it. This is because the music sounds antiquated and therefore completely fresh to my ears. However it still sounds bloody good when I play it on my computer. Duke’s vocal delivery is ever so slightly camp (Can you be “Ever so slightly” camp, that’s a contradiction in terms isn’t it?) and it’s backed by instruments like the Clarinet that we hear too in-frequently in everyday pop.

‘Feet In The Sky’ is written by regular collaborator Paul Wilkinson. It’s like one of those great early Rufus Wainwright singles like ‘April Fools’ or ‘California’. Next up is a live cover of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ classic single ‘Maps’. There’s something wonderful about how the calls of “Wait” sound in Duke’s Belfast accent. Lastly, is another Duke Special original called ‘Low’. It’s a beautiful Piano ballad that documents Duke’s lows but reaches such great heights too. If you’ve been waiting for a new Antony & The Johnson’s record then this B-side is for you.

If you want another great cover of ‘Maps’ visit the site of London band ‘Paris Motel’ to buy their demo CD.

Duke Special Website / Duke Special MySpace Page
Paris Motel Website / Paris Motel MySpace Page

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