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coverpic flag Czech Republic - Full Moon 47 - 08/15/00

Richard Müller
Hlas
B&M Music

This ambitious, over-the-top outing should be a real embarrassment to Richard Müller. Yeah, yeah, the complete title of the CD is "Richard Müller/Vocals, Michal Horácek/Lyrics, Jan Saudek/Pictures," but it's the singer's name that's highlighted everywhere in the booklet, it's his picture on the cover holding that nameless model, and it's his (misspelled) name printed on the CD itself.

And it's not because he didn't have good company. For instance, lyricist Horácek is a self-proclaimed professional gambler, a published horse racing expert, a successful business entrepreneur and a recent student of medieval philosophy. And Jan Saudek is even more accomplished; as an internationally renowned artist, he has most of his hand-painted photographs exhibited on permanent displays in some of the finest galleries in Paris and New York. And that's not all. Among the numerous guests on this CD are the Czech/Slovak chanteuse of the 60's Hana Hegerová, 1999 "Singer of the Year" winner Anna K, and the international avant-garde artist Iva Bittová. Even the reigning diva of Czech pop Lucie Bilá shows up, just to whisper a few words. So what is the problem?

Saudek's surreal pictures cannot make up for Horácek and Müller's sloppy production. Not much on this CD is making sense. For instance, why is he growling certain words in the bouncy single Nina Ricci? What is that flirty interlude in the middle of the song? And is it really necessary to explain in the liner notes that Gabriella Sabatini was a tennis player?

Srdce jako kníze Rohan (Heart Like Prince Rohan) by the same authors isn't any better, but at least this one is clearly about gambling instead of making an obsure point about cosmetics. But why was it necessary to have the Slovak composer Ivan Tásler sing the lyrics in Czech? Why is Flétnu do zita (an idiom similar to 'Throwing in the towel'), inexplicably 'sung' by two members of the rock group Lucie? Well whatever the answer is, at least the song doesn't feature a half a dozen people trading lines a là "We are the World" for no apparent reason, like they do in Baroko (Baroque)...

Knowing that the composer Jaro Filip passed away earlier this year makes the theatrical Az povezou me na lafete (When They Carry Me On the Caisson) especially eerie, but it's Stvanice (The Hunt) which - besides exposing Müller's Slovak accent - qualifies as the most pretentious cut of them all. Only Stín stíhá stín (Shadow Trailing a Shadow), Müller's 'tribute' to the legendary Hana Hegerová which consists of the two of them reciting the lyrics together, comes close. Finally, in the closing song Iva Bittová's talent is totally wasted.

This project comes off as if Müller was showing off how many famous names he can cram onto his album. Don't tell him, but as a producer he really sucks. Of course let's not forget Horácek, who probably financed the project. He supplied all the pretentious lyrics and provided Müller with the misguided vocal direction. The only people who didn't totally embarrass themselves with this project were the producer of the basic music tracks Oskar Rozsa, and the naked model on the cover.

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