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Downes Braide Association - Skyscraper Souls album review

Selling Asia by the pound

Cover art for Downes Braide Association - Skyscraper Souls album

Five years after Geoff Downes hooked up with singer/ producer Chris Braide, the duo’s third album has fulfilled the promise of the first two and stands alongside anything Downes has achieved since Buggles.

The formula is simple enough: a mood-setting piano intro followed by some fluid, melodic vocals leading to a sequence of classic prog keyboard chords. And Braide’s mid-Atlantic stylings blend well with Downes’ resolutely British approach.

They revel in their 70s influences – the title track is an 18-minute epic – but unlikely collaborators like Kate Pierson (B-52’s), Andy Partridge (XTC) and Marc Almond add their distinctive pop sensibilities.

The coup de grâce is using musicians instead of machines for the rhythm section, which makes the album swing like a lawnmower.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.