John Murray on the enduring appeal of Rufus Wainwright
Hearing some live tracks from Rufus Wainwright confirmed to me what an artist he really is. Of course he famously won a Grammy for his live ‘Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall’ when he replicated the Judy Garland live album at that same venue. His latest project was the duet on the title track of Robbie Williams’ ‘Swing Both Ways’ which he co-wrote. Next week we see the release of Vibrate (Universal) essentially the best of Rufus and with a bonus CD of rarities. Firstly the packed hits side has ‘Going To A Town’, ‘The Art Teacher’, ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ and his spectacular take on ‘Hallelujah’ as featured on the Shrek soundtrack. Special mention too for ‘Oh What A World (Want One)’ set to the Ravel’s Bolero orchestration and for a new song written with Guy Chambers called ‘Me and Liza’. So what have they saved for bonus disc to tease us along with art cards and an expanded booklet? Well along with the rare and newly released pieces there are five live tracks from his Kenwood House shows in 2010, ‘One Man Guy’ live from KCRW streaming radio in California and two songs live from Artists Den 2012. For movie fans ‘The Maker Makes’ (from Brokeback Mountain) and ‘Complainte de la Butte’ (from Moulin Rouge) are here too. Currently commissioned to write his second opera for Canadian Opera Company, he plays just two UK shows soon taking in Edinburgh Usher Hall on March 5 as part of their centenary celebrations. With a fifth solo album out this week Emily Smith returns to more Scottish traditional songs. Echoes (Unique Gravity), has ten selections with the choice being the haunting ‘Clerk Saunders’ but with special guests throughout. The whole album has an acoustic feeling of gentleness over new and timeless songs like Darrell Scott’s ‘The Open Door’ and Bill Caddick’s ‘John O’ Dreams’. The first song released was the tale of ‘My Darling Boy’ premiered along with a video. There is a chance to hear the new works and more at her show on March 7 at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline.