DAVID BYRNE & FATBOY SLIM
Here Lies Love: A Song Cycle About Imelda Marcos & Estrella Cumpas
(Nonesuch) Have you ever wanted Steve Earle to impersonate Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and croon to you over ’ 90s club beats by Fatboy Slim? Yeah, me neither. But such fare is typical in Here Lies Love, a 22-song concept album about the glamorous life and notorious times of Imelda Marcos. The album is the brainchild of David Byrne, who makes it clear in the liner notes there’s nothing cruel or ironic about this project. Slim provided the beats, Byrne wrote the songs, and the vocals belong to a veritable cruise ship of torpedoed talent. Cyndi Lauper gets the despot boy-meets-clotheshorse girl track. Dap-Queen Sharon Jones vamps it up on “Dancing Together,” a slinky R&B club ode to Imelda’s nights at Studio 54 that recalls Fatboy Slim at the height of his “The Rockafeller Skank” knob-twiddling powers. There’s something oddly charming about retro New Waver Santigold in persona as Imelda bragging about her global diplomatic powers and shouting out disses to corrupt statesmen: “Nixon, Castro, Zhou En-lai and Qaddafi / Is easy and I tell you’ll why.” In the tiny circles that make up the Venn diagram of listeners for this album, I can barely see the pinhead for that oddball audience that must have its 1980s Third World politics, Broadway musicals, and tepid club anthems all in one package.