A two-CD compilation of Lene Lovich
's near-complete Stiff Records output, the sensibly titled Stiff Years
rounds up three entire albums, a clutch of singles and oddities, and reminds you just how dazzling Lovich
was when she first emerged, aboard Stiff's 1978 "Be Stiff" tour. Indeed, for a year or so at the end of the '70s, Lovich
's freaky whooping, wiry sexuality, and utterly lustrous way with melodies was the sound of the future. From her debut album, Stateless
, "Lucky Number" and "Home" still possess that incandescence, and the bubblegum popster "I Think We're Alone Now" has transcended time and place, while her version of Nick Lowe
's "Tonight" might well be the most seductive record you'll hear all day.
Split between discs one and two, Lovich
's second album, 1980's Flex
, fell back a little; too much of it recycled past innovations to the point where they verged on gimmickry: "Monkey Talk," "Wonderful One," and "You Can't Kill Me" had all been done much better on Stateless
. At its best, however -- the shrieking, nervous "Bird Song" and a delicious cover of Frankie Valli
's "The Night" -- the best of Stateless
soon came rushing back. The remainder of this collection offers up nothing more thrilling than the somewhat annoying "New Toy" single and 1982's barely memorable No Man's Land
album, unfortunately, so Stiff Years
ends as sadly on CD as it did in real life.