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A special edition of 'Talk on Corners' by the Corrs improves on the original

By Nicky Baxter

Over the years, Ireland has exported numerous pop sensations: Them, Van Morrison, U2, the Chieftains and now the Corrs. This Irish quartet has taken the world by storm, scooping up awards right and left, selling tons of records everywhere. Except here, that is. With the release of Talk on Corners: Special Edition that may soon change.

Originally released to massive international acclaim two years ago by the siblings--Andrea, lead vocals; Caroline, drums and bodhran; Sharon, violins; Jim, guitars and keyboards--Talk on Corners proffered endearingly straightforward songwriting and sirenlike vocals, enfolded in winsome melodic raiments. Emerald Isle exotica (bodhran, tin whistle) mixed easily with conventional rock instrumentation to produce a sound that, while not earth-shatteringly new, adroitly sidestepped MOR-land.

Special Edition (Lava/143/Atlantic) re-envisions the band's second album as smart, hip dance music. On board to add gloss to the Special Edition are a phalanx of major-league sonic alchemists, including K-Klass, Tin Tin Out and Todd Terry.

Of the newly redecorated songs, "What Can I Do" "So Young" and "Dreams" offer moments of sustained delight. Reworked by Tin Tin, the first basks in a languid pool of sighing violins, lazily slapping percussion and dreamy vocal harmonies. Curiously, Andrea's ice-queen vocal bears a striking resemblance to Karen Carpenter (particularly on the downward spiraling bridge).

Aside from a few curliecued phrases, Andrea's delivery is bereft of ornamentation, thus heightening the effect of her almost painfully lovelorn lyric (the cooed "love me, love me" might make some aggro-girls wince).

As reinterpreted by K-Klass, "Only When I Sleep" possesses a kind of somnolent beauty. Here Andrea's vocal is infused with the emotional heft of a real Celtic soul singer. Brother Jim's guitars churn out refracting shards, while her own tin whistle and Sharon's violins add color and texture to the dancing Irish folk figures.

However, it is Caroline's reconfigured, deceptively casual behind-the-beat percussion that makes this one such a delectable treat. "So Young" offers the kind of pure pop pleasure missing since the Carpenters' salad days. Andrea is as gaily carefree as any twentysomething can be. Burbling keyboards and breezy acoustic guitar enhance the tune's youthful exuberance.

"Dreams" is perhaps the album's finest moment. As retooled by remix master Todd Terry, this Stevie Nicks vehicle is a rhythmic tour de force. All synth-drums, clacking keyboards and sprightly violins, this rendition eschews original's wraithlike fragility for a tougher, clubland groove.

The remaining songs showcase the Corrs' untouched by the remixers' magic wand. Songs like "I Never Really Loved You Anyway" and "Paddy McCarthy" offer compelling evidence that even without the studio wizardry this is a band with tremendous crossover appeal. This is not to suggest that these tunes are without substance: "Paddy" can hardly be described as Corrs lite. These sibs can play. Indeed, the instrumental is probably Special Edition's most adventurous track, boasting a beguiling melody, some snappy percussion and rippling keyboards.

Grounding the instrumental is a burbling, synth-generated bass line that may not turn George Clinton green with envy, but is funky enough. As if in affirmation of the band's roots, Andrea's tin whistle and Sharon's fiddle are front and center, reiterating the tune's melody until it wedges itself firmly inside listeners' heads.

Fittingly, Special Edition closes with a achingly ethereal version of Hendrix's "Little Wing." Choirlike vocals soar above a carpet of flutes and harp, fleshing out Jimi's somewhat skeletally rendered melodic framework. Save for one misstep (the somewhat overwrought "Queen of Hollywood"), the remodeled Talk on Corners is special, very special indeed. As are the Corrs.

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Web extra to the April 22-28, 1999 issue of Metro.

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