Black Session 2006 [no label 1CD Torrent: 122278]

An early halt on the former Pulp man's solo promotional routine, as his Jarvis debut hung over the immediate future, this French radio session opens with a title that it's unlikely he could ever have performed on an English-speaking broadcast, the album's closing opus "Cunts Are Still Running The World." And he sounds good, as laconic as he ever was at the height of Pulp, and wrapped around some of the smartest lyrics his generation has yet come up with. 

The trouble is, the melodic gifts that once served him so well are still only firing on a couple of cylinders, and so a clutch of songs drift by without any of them ever bothering to leap out to grab you. It's a failing that the album obviates by the sheer quality of the production; live, on the other hand, the little flourishes and flashes that bring each song to life are more or less left at home.

In fairness, "Disney Time" build some gripping tension around the piano break, and "Fat Children" rocks with all the passion and vengeance that its subject matter demands. Hardly surprisingly, it gets the biggest cheer of the night - so much so that it then comes back for an encore at the end of the night.

But "Heavy Weather," "I Will Kill Again," "From Auschwitz To Ipswich," "Tonite," "Big Julie" and even the hyper-quirky "Black Magic" are songs that you need to live with before they truly cut it in concert, and it's obvious that tonight's audience has not even been introduced to them. And "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" needs to be reprised for the final performance of the night, and granted a make-over of crunchy guitars and thunderous drums, before it reveals all its best secrets. The Jarvis album itself is a joy. But if Black Session is your first exposure to it, you'll probably not care enough to discover that. Shame. - Dave Thompson

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July 27, 2007