THE BARGAIN BUY: Suzanne Vega; Suzanne Vega + Solitude Standing

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Suzanne Vega: Marlene on the Wall
THE BARGAIN BUY: Suzanne Vega; Suzanne Vega + Solitude Standing

Ever wonder what happened to Suzanne Vega who was big in the mid-to-late Eighties with hits like Marlene on the Wall, Tom's Diner and Luka?

Well, she's still out there and still doing it . . . but oddly enough, doing the same thing all over again.

More of that in a minute.

New Yorker Vega was one of the most interesting voices in a kind of new-folk movement and she arrived with considerable credibility after having studied modern dance and English literature, all the while writing poetry and then moving into songs. She had something of the Leonard Cohen about her in terms of serious intent, economy of lyrics and a poetic sensibility.

Her self-titled debut album of '85 -- produced by Lenny Kaye, which did seem an odd pairing -- included her catchy hit Marlene on the Wall (about Dietrich) and she also co-wrote a couple of songs with Philip Glass for his album Songs of Liquid Days in '86.

Her second album Solitute Standing consolidated her reputation and the song Luka (about an abused child) was an unlikely hit, in part because of the excellent video.

The album also included her a cappella Tom's Diner (Seinfeld's diner) which was a poetic observational account of a morning and browsing through the paper and just go-nowhere stuff, but hghly engaging nonetheless. There was a longer, insrumental reprise as the closing track which effectively bookended the album.

Vega's subjects were literary and personal, but in subsequent decades her albums only reached the lower regions of the charts -- although she was busy in theatre, making guest appearances on other people's albums, working in radio and on a number of personal projects including divorcing and remarrying.

Whch brings us to what she is up to today. Much the same.

In fact in 2010 she began to re-record her songs and put them out on themed albums under the collective title Close-Up (so far love, people and places, states of being and family).

JB_HZ_CHEAP_longBut for most people those first two albums contain the essence of the Suzane Vega they know, and so it is a pleasant surprise to find them on a double disc at just $10 in JB Hi-Fi stores here.

And that, even though she might not like the production, makes this our Bargain Buy for this week. 

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