classical & world / music / pop / reviews

To the Stars: Sarah Brightman – Fly II

fly II

Commonly referred to as Fly II in fan circles, the coveted 2000 re-release of Sarah Brightman’s 1995 Fly album was made available during her La Luna tour and briefly in her website’s store. Now, however, it’s a collector’s item and a rarity that can sometimes fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay and other auction websites.

Luckily, I happen to have a copy.

Fly II is a double-album of sorts, with the first disc featuring the original Fly release from 1995. That means that there is no “Time to Say Goodbye” messing things up. The track listing is the same and it would be redundant to re-review that record considering that I’ve already done so. You’re welcome.

The second disc was the hot tamale because it featured a pile of rare tracks and remixes that couldn’t be found anywhere else at the time. Things have changed, especially online, and most of the tracks – if not all of them – are readily available for curious listeners. That’s not to say that Fly II has no value as a collector’s piece, as it really is an indispensable but hard-to-locate item in the Brightman fan’s arsenal.

The party commences with a 1996 remix of “Once in a Lifetime.” The original version came from Dive, but this version packs a bit of a more insistent beat and the lyrics really pop out. You can tell how far things have come in terms of how these arrangements are going to work going forward, especially by the prevalence of guitars.

A dance-oriented, German-style disco version of “How Can Heaven Love Me” is also here, but it’s not really a good trip through the light fantastic. It kind of loses the impact of the original song and renders it cheesier than the Fly version (no small feat). Chris Thompson’s vocals are ungainly though earnest.

For us “Starship Troopers” fans, there’s another remix of the cut on Fly II. This is again pretty straightforward, with a pumping club beat. The version here can be found on the single, which I’ve already reviewed, but any chance I get to mention this gem of a song is a chance I’m going to take.

Among the rarer tracks on Fly II are “Desert Rose,” a tune that can be found on the Eden/Time to Say Goodbye split from 1999. There’s also “Hurry Home,” a more understated track that features some light keys and beautiful singing from our protagonist. And “The Same Thing to You” is a rather folky number that could’ve come from her earlier solo albums. It’s a nice piece and apparently really hard to find.

“Rain” is probably the best track to be found on Fly II. It features more of that rollicking synth but also a killer slash of guitar that really plays with the vibe that Brightman sadly abandoned after Fly. Her operatic tones really fit the track and her command is intense; she’s never sounded more assertive, save for maybe some of the material from the emotional Symphony. And yes, there is a Black Sabbath reference tucked in the deluge somewhere for all the music nerds.

Fly II is one of those acquisition pieces that a lot of Brightman fans talk about to this day. Linger around websites and forums dedicated to her and it still comes up as the Holy Grail of Brightmandom. As far as the songs go, it’s really just an okay release. But absence makes the heart grow more obsessed, I suppose, and the strong reactions and curiosities that follow this record carry on all the way to the stars.

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