Turn That Noise Down - Chris Isaak

So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1989 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Susan remembers Heart Shaped World...

When you think of Chris Isaak you automatically think of Wicked Game. Or at least I do.

Heart Shaped World, Isaak’s third studio album which was released in 1989, was the one that brought him to the world stage after David Lynch used the track Wicked Game in his soundtrack for Wild at Heart in 1990 and the song itself was released as a single in 1991 with “that video” featuring Helena Christensen.

However, back to 1989 and the album itself. It’s one that I must admit I hadn’t listened to for a very long time but, as soon as I put it on, I was immediately in a comfort zone of simple snare, twangy guitar and Isaaks’s wonderful country rock voice. There are ten songs on the album and the first nine are all pretty much variations on a theme, some more ballady, some more rock and roll but all sounding like speeded up or slowed down versions of Wicked Game with different words. That is not meant as an insult though, like I said there is a comfort in familiarity and I was soon tapping my feet along with all of them, executing a mean mental quickstep now and again to the strict tempo of the faster ones.

Then we get to the final song, In the Heat of the Jungle. I had totally forgotten about this! Completely different to everything else on the album, it starts with birds, frogs, monkeys and elephants. No, really it does. Then the drums start but not yer comfort zone snares, oh no, we’ve gone full on tribal toms. Add in a much more muted guitar sound with a driving base and Isaak channelling his best Elvis over low chanting. If that wasn’t enough, halfway through the six minute track, all hell breaks loose as it goes full on prog with Hammond organ and fascinating jazz percussion, trills, sighs, call and response and wandering piano… look, rather than me trying to explain, it’s easier if you just listen to it.

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