Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
An overlooked late 80's gem
John O'Regan | Limerick, Ireland. | 10/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ella Mental was a South African duo of singer Heather Mac Dermott and guitarist Tim Parr. Originally an 80's New Wave band in South Africa they decamped to Dublin,Ireland in 1987 and formed a new line up of Ella Mental. Recruiting respected session musicians including drummer Robbie Brennan, Dave McHaile on keyboards and sax, bassist TJM Tutty and Keybords player Kevin Strong they formed the latter day Ella Mental. Musically they changed too from New Wave to a mix of African Township Jive, Paul Simon 'Graceland' type feelgood beats and American 80's AOR. Signed by Billy Gaff ex Faces Manager to Warners they recorded 'Ella Mental' in Ocean Way studios in Hollywood,California. The album mixes smooth AOR in the Bon Jovi and latter day Heart mould with exuberant uptemo Township jive and moody 80's electronica. Heather Mac's vocals growl deeply on the menancing 'Is It any Wonder',and swoop on the closing 'Madman'. The gently loping rhythms of 'Africa' exhibit a warm glow despite some kitchy synthesisers and 'Seasons Come Seasons Go' creates a pleasant crossover vibe, but its the exuberant'Freedom Jive' where the Roots/Rock recipe really kicks into hyperspace. Meanwhile 'Eddie's Cat' and 'Song for Jenny' are super slick AOR killers rock solid and powerful. Produced by Stewart Levine the sound is big,bold and dynamic high on 80's gloss and it still sounds surprisingly good. 'Ella Mental' is outside Johny Cleggs' albums one of the few efforts at crossing African folk styles with contemporary rock. If the thought of 'Graceland' mixing with Bon Jovi and Heart type 80's AOR tickles your tastebuds,'Ella Mental' will prove a refreshing surprise. One of the great forgotten 80's Roots/Rock fusions that got away."