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30.3.08

Olive





Olive - Extra Virgin - 1996 - RCA

A good album in the vein of Portishead and Morcheeba. It is not groundbreaking , but it is a well above average album of it's type. Most of the tracks are well constructed musically, with some nice jazz influences, helped by British vocalist Ruth-Ann Boyle's angelic voice over a wide variety of beats and loops. Check out "You're Not Alone." The album has received mixed reviews, - more critical than complimentary, but many critics are looking for a second "Dummy" or "Walking Wounded, " and that's not being realistic. It's a cool, calm, relaxing album, and very enjoyable. Even if you're not into the techno/electronica/trip-hop scene, you may be missing out on a lot of good music by discounting albums like Extra Virgin. If you like Sade, you might just enjoy this album. For other music in this genre, check out Sade's "Diamond Life," Morcheeba's "The Antidote," and "Walking Wounded" by Everything but the Girl. Olive released a second CD, "Trickle" in 2000, on Maverick Records.

TRACKS

1 Miracle (7:31)
2 This Time (4:43)
3 Safer Hands (5:02)
4 Killing (4:17)
5 You're Not Alone (4:25)
6 Falling (4:52)
7 Outlaw (5:08)
8 Blood Red Tears (4:41)
9 Curious (5:00)
10 You Are Nothing (4:19)
11 Muted (3:37)
12 I Don't Think So (13:37)
13 You're Not Alone - TRACK 13 [This is a hidden version of Track 5, with no rhythm track on it.]

All compositions by Kellett/Taylor

CREDITS

Ruth-Ann Boyle : Vocals
Darren Campbell : Bass
Duke Quartet : Strings
Tony Foster : Bass, Guitar
Louise Fuller : Violin
Adrian Hackett : Drums
Tim Kellett : Flugelhorn, Keyboards, Trumpet
Richard Koster : Violin
George Lambert : Digital EQ
Henrik Linnermann : Flute
Ivan McCready : Cello
John Metcalfe : Viola
Omith Mukherjee : Guitar
Heitor Teixeira Pereira : Guitar
Ruth-Ann : Vocals
Mark Sheridan : Flute, Guitar
Robin Taylor-Firth : Keyboards

REVIEWS

A year after its initial release, Olive's debut album, Extra Virgin, finally produced a number one British hit with "You're Not Alone," a low-key lite trip-hop number with a graceful melody. It's a strong single, and there are similarly strong moments on Extra Virgin, yet Olive don't stand out from the post-Portishead pack. Like Everything but the Girl, they are essentially a folky, pop-oriented group that uses the stoned rhythms of trip-hop as hip window-dressing. Since that rhythm is appealing on its own terms, it doesn't matter that Olive use it as ornamentation, especially since they use it well. What is a problem is their lack of consistent songwriting. Only a few songs match the singles "You're Not Alone" and "Miracle" in terms of memorable, melodic construction, and the weaker tracks tend to float by on their admittedly entrancing production. And that leaves Extra Virgin an intriguing debut, but not necessarily one that promises great things from Olive. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
There are all the standard trip-hop ingredients--two guys who could probably stand to get out of the studio a little more often, lots of keyboards, drum machines, and samples. And there's a female singer, who's been compared to Sade--rather unfairly, since Ruth-Ann can manage more than a monotone and still be sultry. But there's also guitar and--wait for it--real strings. And, um, songs. Granted, they're not your conventional verse-chorus-verse, but like an insect bite, they get under your skin until you're scratching away and can't ignore them. © Chris Nickson, Amazon.com

BIO (Wikipedia)

Olive were a dance/breakbeat/trip hop group from Sunderland, North East England. The founding membership consisted of producer, instrumentalist and songwriter Tim Kellett, producer and keyboard programmer Robin Taylor-Firth, and singer Ruth-Ann Boyle. The band released two albums, the second without Taylor-Firth, before ceasing activity. They are best known for the UK number-one single "You're Not Alone". Following Simply Red's 1991 album Stars, which garnered the band's greatest commercial success in the UK and worldwide at the time, Tim Kellett, last among its original lineup (as trumpet player), left the band. Meanwhile, Robin Taylor-Firth had just come off of George Evelyn's techno/hip hop project Nightmares on Wax.The two met through a mutual friend who had recently joined Simply Red as bassist, and formed a musical collaboration (Taylor-Firth cites the disparity between his relatively "underground" work among Sheffield's electronic music and DJ community, and Kellett's mainstream history). By 1994, three demos (which would become "Miracle", "Falling" and "You're Not Alone") were recorded in Kellett's cellar studio, upon which the two began their search for a singer. At this time, Kellett went on tour as keyboardist with Vini Reilly's The Durutti Column (which he played for a decade ago prior to joining Simply Red). While playing back pre-recorded keyboard samples on stage, Kellett heard a favourable vocal sample; the voice was that of Ruth-Ann Boyle, who had provided the samples for The Durutti Column's 1994 album Sex and Death. Kellett contacted Boyle about singing for the collaboration; at the time working in a bar, and though disillusioned from past experiences singing in bands, Boyle accepted. After a "kind of an audition" with "Miracle" Boyle's membership in the band was set. The completion of the three initial demos attracted the interest of various UK record labels, and Olive signed with the top bidder, RCA, in September 1995. The songwriting and recording process concluded with the completion of their first album in January 1996.The first single, "You're Not Alone," was released in 1996. Although the song took a year for audiences in England to catch onto, it eventually made number one in 1997, after the release of a new, remixed version, selling over 500000 copies. Popularity in America and Australia was muted, with the track falling short of an American Top 40 position and being restricted to a small musical niche with Australians. "Outlaw" followed not long after, with similar responses, as well as their first album, Extra Virgin in 1996. The band also toured with Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison in 1999. Going along with the success of the remixed single, Extra Virgin was re-released with a bonus disc of remixes (by producers including Monkey Mafia, Roni Size, and the famed duo of Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne) in 1997. The band went on tour to promote the album with a seven-piece band, playing three episodes of Top of the Pops ("You're Not Alone" twice in May 1997, "Outlaw" in August), a ten-date UK tour, as well as legs in Germany (alongside Faithless) and the U.S. In the time leading up to the release of the follow-up album, Taylor-Firth had left the group to return to Nightmares on Wax, bringing it down to a duo. Meanwhile, they lost the support of RCA's UK branch, which dropped the band; however, they were then picked up by Madonna's Maverick Records (supposedly, with Madonna's personal approval after she attended one of their concerts in Germany). In 2000, their presciently-named second album Trickle was released. While Trickle still displayed the distinctive Olive sound, the tunes were more dance-oriented. The best known song on this album was a cover of the 10cc song "I'm Not in Love"; it reached number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and was featured on the soundtrack to The Next Best Thing. Since then, like many trip-hop bands, little has been heard of them. The band has entered an extended hiatus. Kellett is focussing on songwriting for other artists so that he can spend more time with his family. Ruth-Ann joined Enigma as a vocalist, and released her first solo album 'What About Us' on June 4th 2007. It was released exclusively through iTunes. At the 1997 Ivor Novello Awards (May 28, 1998), Kellett and Taylor-Firth received the Best Dance Music award for "You're Not Alone". The song was also covered as a 2002 single by German dance producer ATB. During the American leg of the Trickle promotional tour, the band suggested that 60-70% of their audience demographic at the time was gay. This was recognized to the extent that the final show of the tour was played at the San Francisco Pride festival. Today, Olive is generally placed alongside mid-1990s trip hop/electronica artists such as Moloko, Beth Orton, and the Sneaker Pimps.

MORE ARTIST INFO

The epitomy of the quieter, coffee-table side of singer/songwriter electronica and trip-hop, Olive was formed by producers Tim Kellett and Robin Taylor-Firth (former members of, respectively, Simply Red and Nightmares on Wax) with vocalist Ruth-Ann Boyle. Kellett connected with Boyle while playing keyboards for a live incarnation of the Durutti Column (he manipulated her tape-looped vocals while on stage), and asked her to join him in a new recording project. With Kellett writing lyrics and the addition of Taylor-Firth, the trio recorded three songs and found plenty of labels ready to bid for their services. RCA Records won out and released "You're Not Alone" in 1995. Though it took almost a year to catch on with British audiences, the single eventually hit number one and sold half a million copies. America proved passingly fond of the track as well, making a home near the Top 40 for it. Their second album Trickle arrived in 2000 on Maverick Records. © John Bush, All Music Guide