With Martinis & Bikinis, Sam Phillips has revitalized the "Beatlesque" category with some substantial songwriting and a woman's voice, which turns the whole sound upside down. The Beatles hardly exhausted the possibilities... more » of their late-'60s sound, and Phillips has the hooks and aphorisms to give that sound a second lease on life. Phillips has rewritten two old Beatles songs into "Strawberry Road" and "Same Rain"; she has even recorded a John Lennon composition, "Gimme Some Truth." Phillips's husband, T-Bone Burnett, cowrote two of the songs and produced all 13, and he adds the Lennonesque touches of guitars recorded backward and sweet harmonized vocals pitted against distorted guitars. But none of this would matter if the songs weren't so good. --Geoffrey Himes« less
With Martinis & Bikinis, Sam Phillips has revitalized the "Beatlesque" category with some substantial songwriting and a woman's voice, which turns the whole sound upside down. The Beatles hardly exhausted the possibilities of their late-'60s sound, and Phillips has the hooks and aphorisms to give that sound a second lease on life. Phillips has rewritten two old Beatles songs into "Strawberry Road" and "Same Rain"; she has even recorded a John Lennon composition, "Gimme Some Truth." Phillips's husband, T-Bone Burnett, cowrote two of the songs and produced all 13, and he adds the Lennonesque touches of guitars recorded backward and sweet harmonized vocals pitted against distorted guitars. But none of this would matter if the songs weren't so good. --Geoffrey Himes
One of the most underappreciated albums of the nineties
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 01/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This may be the most underrated album of the 1990s. Certainly it deserves far more fans than it has, but luckily with most all it takes is people hearing it for the first time. It is impossible to listen to this album without being reminded of the Beatles. Phillips's husband T-Bone Burnett, one of the great producers on the planet (he won the Grammy in 2002 for O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU! for best album of the year) and Phillips seem to have immersed themselves in MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR immediately before going into the recording studio. This was all, of course, completely intentional. Why else have a song that reminds one of elements in "Strawberry Fields Forever" that is entitled "Strawberry Road"? Or radically separate the tracks so that the album is in the same kind of exaggerated stereo the Beatle's albums employed. Burnett is too great a producer not to have known precisely the effect these arrangements would have on a listener. From beginning to end, this album serves up one great song after another, all delivered in Phillips's superb, rich, nasally voice. In reality, every song on the album stands out, though if pressed, I would probably single out "Baby I Can't Please You," "Strawberry Road," "When I Fall," "Same Changes" (with amazing use of an African talking drum), and "I Need Love," the one song off the album to get some radio airplay. This is just a very, very strong set of songs, impeccably produced, with a great back up band. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed in this record. Get it."
Beauty and the Truth
Batmanbrb | Seymour, IN United States | 06/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the release of "Martinis and Bikinis", Sam Phillips had made a name for herself as an insightful, poetic artist with interesting, fresh music. Critics loved her, but unfortunately, she was grossly ignored by radio. This is a very fun and thought provoking release, more upbeat music than her previous two releases. "Baby I Can't Please You" is probably the most radio-friendly song on here and who can't relate to the lyrics, "You take the words I say and make them mean everything they don't, baby you're obscene. You don't listen you don't hear you're blinded by the fear that surrounds you." I enjoyed "Same Rain" which states, "Is it the same rain that falls on a holy man, is it the same rain that falls on a liar's hand, is it the same rain that falls on me?" Even though "Signposts" is a short song, I love it for her having the guts to honestly tell why she left Christian music for secular music, "I wanted to get lost and love the questions there, beauty and the truth, I could breathe like air." I absolutely love the Phillips/T Bone Burnett song "Same Changes" and I might be the only to say this, I LOVE the song "Black Sky", because it is so different, eclectic, and has a powerful message about our human greed for money and our lack of concern for the health of the earth in the process. It's kind of a doomsday song and the music is so fitting... it's just something you would have to hear for yourself to appreciate. I just can't praise this disc enough... a very strong release!!"
Her best effort
greyhound1954 | Dallas, TX | 05/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An extemely strong album from an artist who is not nearly as well-known as Sheryl, Alanis, Jewel and others, but who deserves to be, since she is farther along in her craft. This is the first Sam Phillips CD I bought, and it remains my favorite and one of my favorite CDs. Most reviewers consider it pop-oriented, and I admit there are many catchy tunes, but it rocks harder than her other CDs and it is a rather dark album too. If you want a Sam Phillips CD, this is the one I'd get."
Sam Phillips' finest album and genuine "Revolver-esque" clas
R.L. Holly | Austin, TX USA | 09/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best and most vital records of 1994, Phillips' third mainstream rock-pop album (formerly billed as "Leslie Phillips", she was a Christian music star in the 1980s) is less a prosaic collection of songs than an organic stream of incantations and revelations from the Otherworld. Many commentators have remarked on M&B's debt to the Beatles, and there are certainly some musical echoes of the Fabs: the "She's A Woman" strums of "Signposts"; the homage of "Strawberry Road" (based on an Iroquois belief); the cover of Lennon's "Gimme Some truth"; the harpsichords, multitracked harmonies, slicing guitar riffs, and Indian drums. But Phillips is no pale imitator. She works subliminally, her oblique lyrics tweaking at the edges of consciousness. Her strongest link with the moptops, in truth, is a shared ethos of belief in the value and power of love, and of the wisdom in 'holding on to the voice inside you" amid the blare of a corrupted society. Like an Old Testament prophet, Phillips rails against the ills of the world -- greed, deceit, oppression -- using an elliptical imagery that is more surreal than overtly political. Her songs are striking in their melodic nuances as well. She employs instruments and vocals with the craft of a painter, assembling glorious guitar pop ("I Need Love") alongside thunderous Indian raga ("Baby I Can't Please You", a shout against her former fundamentalist string-pullers), disturbing nightmares ("Black Sky," "Wheel of the Broken Voice"), and triumphant epiphanies ("When I Fall"). Martinis & Bikinis' predecessors (The Indescribable Wow; Cruel Inventions) were also impressive, but this offering, with harder-edged production by then-husband T Bone Burnett, is simply relentless. Sam Phillips at the height of her form."