11 tracks, 47 minutes. Remastered at Southern Studios in 2010 by Harvey Birrell, Little Annie's 1992 masterpiece Short and Sweet has been reissued and beautifully repackaged with brand new artwork from Little Annie's own paintings. The CD is packaged in a digipack and comes with extensive liner notes from Robert R Conroy, which shed light into the events around the recording. Also available in this series of reissues are Little Annie's Jackamo and Soul Possession.
Short and Sweet is the sound of a clutch of tremendously talented musicians applying themselves to the task of making 'pop music', and demanding said musical form rise to their high standards - as opposed to said musicians watering down what they do. Short and Sweet is likewise a much more explicitly accessible collection of tunes when compared with either of Annie's previous LPs, Soul Possession and Jackamo, but it remains an album of startling style and wit. Wimbish and McDonald (Sugarhill Gang/Tackhead/Dub Syndicate) are endlessly inventive here, creating a series of sprawling, rolling, funky rhythm tracks infused with booby traps of dub production, blues guitar and middle/east Asian instrumentation. The music is the perfect soundtrack for life in London at the time, and the perfect miseen-scene for Annie to portray her domestic comedies/tragedies within.
And Annie is very much ready for her close-up here, Mr DeMille. Like all truly great artists she makes it look easy, she makes it sound simple - like these rants and prayers, tirades and seductions are all just falling off the top of her head. The off-hand skill of her vocal delivery sometimes masks her incredibly precise use of language, her ability to take a turn of phrase and turn it back on itself or to pull a cliché inside out. And always this return to ambivalence over her circumstances, finding herself on the floor waiting for the next shoe to drop, realising that her find romance has just reached its expiration date or that she is a one-man woman looking for the man that got away, because she's scared he might come back!
'I Think of You', 'Everything and More', 'Going For Gold' and 'Watch the World Go By': each perfectly captures that moment when the milk and honey of domestic bliss begins to curdle. In 'Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer)' a rowdy chorus of Annies bestow their benedictions on all aspects of the population, while an unnerving horn sample suggests just how necessary such blessings are in this big bad world. She is voracious in 'Give it to Me', vicious in 'Little Man' and a punch-drunk Stepford Wife trying, unconvincingly, to convince herself she's happy in 'Prisoner of Paradise'. With 'You and the Night and the Music' she returns to the boiling pitch black humor/grisly imagery of Jackamo.
But the real masterpiece here is the LP's finale, 'If Cain Were Able'. "The flowerbeds all look so nice this time of year, though the night still holds a chill", Annie coos against a stately piano sample and ominous squibs of synthesizer, setting the stage, a nocturnal vigil for a lover who has walked out the door. It is a true tour de force, as the singer runs the gauntlet from sadness to desperation to anger to blind rage, the backing track perfectly reflecting her mood and growing into a full-on film noir groove. (The song is noteworthy as Annie's first foray into producing, along with engineer Richard Norris.)
The LP was released to rapturous reviews. After a performance in NYC with one of her idols, Grace Jones -Annie's first gig in New York in 13 years, a routine of touring commenced. Having previously returned to New York City, primarily to visit her friend Charles Schwartz, who was succumbing to complications from HIV infection, Annie found herself more taken with the town than she had imagined she would be, despite the sad circumstances.
Had there been any justice Annie would have arrived as a major pop star. But the vagaries of public taste, combined with On-U Sound's limited wherewithal, thwarted Annie's hoped-for breakthrough. She remained a respected cult figure, and new horizons beckoned. As the 1990s progressed Annie would leave On-U Sound, London and her husband, relocate to New York City and fully embrace her chanteuse/cabaret leanings. Collaborations with the likes of Antony Hegarty and Paul Wallfisch and great LPs would follow.
But that's another story...
Robert R Conroy
New York City, September 2010
Taken from Robert R Conroy's notes for the insert of this reissue of Short and Sweet.
The CD is beautifully packaged in a digipack with artwork taken from Little Annie's own paintings and comes with extensive liner notes from Robert R Conroy, which shed light into the events around the recording.
Also available in this series of reissues are Little Annie's Jackamo and Soul Possession.
1. Watch The World Go Bye
2. Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer)
3. Going For Gold
4. I Think Of You
5. I Think Of You (Dub)
6. Give It To Me
7. You The Night And The Music
8. Little Man
9. Prisoners Of Paradise
10. Everything & More
11. If Cain Were Able
Running Time: 47 Minutes
Released: January 2011