Review: “The Dame Edna Party Experience” by Dame Edna Everage (CD, 1988)

Today’s Pop Rescue from an uncertain fate, is the 1988 debut album The Dame Edna Party Experience by Australian megastar extraordinaire, Dame Edna Everage. Will this album be the ultimate experience, or is it a party pooper? Read on…

Dame Edna - The Dame Edna Party Experience (1988) album
Dame Edna – The Dame Edna Party Experience (1988) album

This 9 track CD opens with a doorbell and creaky door, followed by an overjoyed screeched welcome of Dame Edna, as the familiar bass of Michael Jackson’s Bad arrives. It’s the first of many medleys on this album, Bad / When Will I Be Famous / Layla (alias Edna) / I Should Be So Lucky / The Locomotion / Bad “Nice” Reprise consisting of covers of parts of tracks by Michael Jackson, Bros, Eric Clapton, Kylie Minogue, and then Michael Jackson again respectively. The vocals are delivered in Dame Edna’s indomitable style, including her take on Jackson’s trademark gasp sounds. Lyrics are subtly altered to ensure an Australian theme, as Dame Edna chats away in between verses. Eventually, the track switches to a thumping beat as Bros’ When Will I Be Famous, Clapton’s roaring guitar hit Layla, and Kylie’s I Should Be So Lucky follows in rapid succession. Without hesitation, we’re into the Kylie/Little Eva hit The Locomotion, in which the Dame’s backing singers put in a great performance. The 9 minute 14 second track closes with a ‘Nice’ version of Jackson’s Bad.

After checking your glass is full, the Dame is into Waltzing Matilda (Instrumental Intro)/The Twist, which allows Edna to throw some personally inspired lyrics to this familiar tune. Again the backing singers sound great here. It’s pretty short, but manages to belt it out.

That’s followed by Venus/Like A Virgin/Girls Just Want To Have Fun/Venus (Reprise) and this starts with what sounds like a backing singer led versions of all tracks – as if Dame Edna might have had a few too many sherries and can only remember to sing a few of the words. The electric guitar solo sounds really good here in Venus, but it does sound like you’re intruding on a very late night cheap karaoke session. Dame Edna’s Like A Virgin chorus is reminiscent of the version in Moulin Rouge.

The tempo rises for Shout Part I, made famous by Lulu. The track races along, and the backing vocalists go exceptionally fast, whilst the Dame puts in a heartfelt performance over the top. That leads on to Shout Part II, which sees Dame Edna’s party-goers encouraging her ‘I feeeeel alright‘ shouts before lunging back into what you hear in Part I. The track then goes to a really quiet patch before Edna ushers the volume back again for the finalé.

Next up is I Got You Babe (Who Needs You Babe) with Sir Les Patterson, who makes his debut appearance on the album alongside Dame Edna. The track is sung as a conflict between the the drunken Patterson and the disgusted Edna. Musically, the track is quite nice, and there is some humour in the lyrics, although they’re a bit buried in this mix. I can imagine this being some 1980’s odd Christmas or charity single.

Next stop, is Whitney Houston, The Supremes, and The Vandellas, as it’s the turn of I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) / Stop! In The Name Of Love / Dancing In The Street. Musically it’s off to a loyal start in Whitney’s hit, and the backing vocalists really shine here too for the chorus. Dame Edna is putting plenty of energy into the vocals for this and Stop!. There’s a wonderful moment where the Dame shouts ‘for heaven’s sake Stop!’ and everything goes quiet for a few seconds, making you think something has stopped playing… but then everything returns as the track heads into Dancing In The Street. This track seems to be the most coherent and tuneful.

That’s followed by the album’s lead and final single Neighbours, a cover of the theme tune to the Australian soap ‘Neighbours‘ which was dominating BBC television in the UK at the time. Whilst the show was in full mania mode at this time, Dame Edna’s version didn’t quite give her the Christmas time hit that may have been expected, with the single scraping into the UK single’s chart at #83. The track bounces along perfectly, complete with a number of animal sounds, a crying baby, and some friendly chit-chat. The backing vocals really help to make the track warmer and allows it to build well as the track heads toward its inevitable ending.

The album closes with what is now an awkward inclusion – a cover of convicted paedophile Gary Glitter‘s hit Leader Of The Pack, and It’s My Party. Off to a sinister sounding start, not just in relation to how Edna met ‘him’ at the candy store and fell for him. Once again, the backing vocalists are superb, and they burst in the racing tempo of It’s My Party.

Dame Edna Everage performing lead single ‘Neighbours’ in 1994.

Verdict

Over all, this album is quite something. If you’re not familiar with Dame Edna, then you’re in for quite a surprise with this album.

With the awkwardness of the inclusion of the Gary Glitter cover, the album reflects the chart hits of the time, mixed with a scattering of older 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s songs thrown in, performed in the only way that Dame Edna knows how.

The musicians really make some of the tracks sound like the legitimate hits of the time – I Should Be So Lucky, When Will I Be Famous, Like A Virgin, and I Wanna Dance With Somebody were all modern hits of the time, and they all sound great here. They’re blended well with older songs, and delivered by Edna with the same enthusiasm and energy as the rest of the tracks.

The backing vocalists Sheryl and Sheila Parker, and Lizzie Spender, put in a brilliant performance, and their harmonies really help to bring warmth and a fuller sound to many of the songs, enabling Dame Edna to focus on delivering her megastar qualities.

Whilst prepared to have a hard time with this album, it has come in at distinctly Everage.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2022 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1988 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £2.70 from a Discogs.com seller.

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