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BETTE BRIGHT AND THE ILLUMINATIONS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Rhythm Breaks the Ice (UK Korova) 1981

Criminally underused in Deaf School, Bette Bright blossomed into an exciting performer on this solo effort, thanks partly to the help of clever friends. Rhythm Breaks the Ice was produced by fellow DS graduate Clive Langer and his partner, Alan Winstanley, the team behind Madness' phenomenal success. (Bright intertwined the family trees by marrying that band's singer, Graham McPherson, in 1981.) Here they balanced studio smarts with the need to emphasize Bright's plaintive tones, and came up with a canny modern-day variation on Phil Spector. The full, smooth sound has a kaleidoscopic quality, continually shifting to highlight the key element in the arrangement — guitar, marimba or whatever — and providing Bright with a perfect launching pad for her soaring style.

[Jon Young]