Picture Perfect Morning (Geffen 24715)
This is a CD that seemed like a real disappointment at the time, but it's aged much better than either of the New Bohemians albums, actually. I hadn't listened to it since selling it back in like 1995, but recently borrowed it during a Edie Brickell fixation that developed rather out of the blue.
Picture Perfect Morning is, and I'm not kidding, a really solid album. Pretty much all the songs are really good, some of them are great, and none is worse than just dull. Musically, it benefits from the lack of guitar noodling that characterized the New Bohemians jammy sound, and the production values are clean but not so slick. Edie's charming as always, and that voice! Whew! No wonder Paul Simon bought her.
Ha, the only time I ever get cynical about Paul Simon is when I listen to Edie Brickell. Simple jealousy, I'm sure. He wrote "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and married Edie Brickell. I collect Star Wars action figures. Oh well, fortunately record reviewing gives me all the power in the world to address all these issues on such a global scale.
Simon actually produced this album, and maybe that's why it's sonically better than the two New Bohemians albums. The songs are not quite as amazing as Edie sometimes hit on those records the tone here is much more relaxed and good-time, even soulful. "Tomorrow Comes" features the Dixie Cups on background vocals, while "Good Times" features Barry White in a spoken interlude. He and Brickell were having a much-publicized affair at the time, which caused Simon to make the famous remark "What can I do, his cock is gigantic." Actually, that never happened, but what if it did? Ha, ha!
"Stay Awhile" is a sultry New Orleans flavored thing that sounds like something The Band might have done a real gem of a song that I'd totally forgotten about. "Green" is a classic Edie slow one, with a swoopy vocal melody that recalls the previous albums more than anything else on here. Probably the only real misfire is "Another Woman's Dream," not a bad song, but just ill-suited in its funkiness to Edie and to this record as a whole.
"Olivia" is a great song that I remember mainly for being a mixtape-killer back in 1994 one of those songs you put on a tape immediately after getting an album, just to include a track, selected almost randomly. Sadly enough I think that detail may have soured me on this very enjoyable album. The power and danger of mixtape something Lifetime really ought to make a movie about.
Picture Perfect Morning starts incredibly strong, and becomes a bit more amorphous as it progresses. The first four cuts are thoroughly amazing, then everything else is pleasant-to-good. "Lost in the Moment" closes the thing out with much subtlety and greatness. This album deserves to be reassessed; it's really good!
It makes the fact that it's the last we've heard of Edie Brickell all the more confusing and hollow. She probably could have done more had the tyrannical Paul Simon not viciously beaten her nearly to death after being cuckolded one too many times. Ok, ok, that never happened either but it's more interesting than having her simply not making albums for no scandalous reason.
Review by Rollie Fingers Jr.