Pete Atkin: 'Q' magazine review of re-issue CD

Beware of the Beautiful Stranger / Driving Through Mythical America
Ian Cranna, from 'Q', March 1998

Highbrow lyrical entertainment by a young Clive James with music by Atkin

When James was at Cambridge University in the '60s, he became lyricist for singer-songwriter Pete Atkin. Both had broad interests (revue, Tin Pan Alley, jazz) and together they wrote subtle, impressively crafted songs (ranging from caustic to melancholy) about love and society, displaying an unexpected poetic sensibility amid the verbal dexterity and cynical wit. The first LP, 1970's 'Beware of the Beautiful Stranger' sometimes smacks of aren't-I-clever smugness and is a tad uncomfortable when moving beyond acoustic guitar to strings, clarinets and double bass, but the brilliant title track is worth the money alone. The second, from 1971, is more sophisticated, dealing in weightier ideas (death, the way men treat each other, power, glamour) in more wordy fashion but with less humour and tunefulness.

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