Newest Review: ... part of the eighties brat pack along with Kylie and Jason. On this album: 'You Keep Me Hanging On' might well be a cover, but she pul... more
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The Collection - Kim Wilde
Member Name: Nar2
The Collection - Kim Wilde
Advantages: A good array of most of Kim Wilde's singles, good price usually,
Disadvantages: Some dated sounds and some later songs are missing.
I am of course referring to Kim Wilde, a British singer known best for her soft rock and disco type songs in the 1980’s and middle of the 1990’s. I’ve found whenever there’s a 1980’s compilation out, you can be sure to find a song by Kim Wilde on there.
I felt the need to buy this CD again for a friend of mine who loves 1980’s music but has never heard (shock!) of Kim Wilde. It was originally launched in 2001 by Spectrum records.
** This is a long review if only for the fact that there are 18 songs on this album! **
** Track Listings **
1. The Second Time (Just Go For It)
I have to say every time I listen to “Just Go For It,” it has shady memories of adults for ever impinging the dangers of drugs onto teenagers and as a result most of us in my 1974 generation never touched or dared to mention drugs in social circles. Whether or not “Just Go For It,” was ever used for a drug campaign, I’ve often likened this track simply because of its slap bass, Pet Shop Boys sound with their defiant and strong keyboards not forgetting loads of echoes and repeats by Kim. It’s a great song to start this album off with as it may well paint a similar style across the board for the rest of the songs.
2. Rage to Love
Despite its fast swing rhythm and an Elvis inspired vocal track, this song often reminds me of many a song by the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable, from songs by Sonia. It however may well be down to the fact that its 1950’s style is attributed to the fact that Rage to Love is written by Kim’s father Marty Wilde who was once a rock and roll star himself. Other songs may well have been co-written by her brother, Ricky Wilde, but this song has a certain Christmas familiarity to it even though it has shades of Blondie with the way the lyrics and chorus constantly repeats itself. I’m not a fan of this song but it certainly adds another style to this pop princess.
3. You Keep Me Hanging On
Now this is one song I love. From the ostinato and tapestry weaved repeats of piano sections moving in and out of the song (which begins this song especially) this is a fast rock disco type track which gets most people who remember this song back onto the dance floor. Optional shoulder pads are not needed here even though you may well think of songs by Hazell Dean in the way the already set electric keyboards, electric guitars and drum machines fill the song from start to finish. This song has also been done by The Supremes.
4. Another Step (Close to you)
Unfortunately this isn’t a song I like for the simple reason I remember a friend lip synching to this song and unfortunately she did such a bad take the song has forever been etched in my memory. It certainly has a very different style in terms of how the song moves. Unlike the others before this, Another Step has a difficult to follow verse line and could have, with improvement had better strength if a band such as Heart might have tackled this kind of song. Kim Wilde hasn’t got a very powerful voice and never has had a powerful voice in terms of offering either a Tina Turner type quality or the huskiness of Bonnie Tyler, but perhaps this is why this song works well, even though she is singing with another singer in this song, by the name of Junior Giscombe who had minor success in the 1980’s but his soulful voice can be heard in this song.
5. Say You Really Want Me
A good beat, a boppy keyboard part which comes in and out and plenty of vocal overdubs gives this song an almost “Miami Sound Machine, Dr Beat” sound even if it lacks some urgency. I don’t mind the song even though it’s not one of my favourites. It also has shades of Five Star which for some people may rewind the 1980’s soul style a bit too far. In spite of its light style it’s a song which is one you either remember or forget even though it has a strong verse line. It has been used in the film “Running Scared,” (film with Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal) and is featured on the soundtrack album for this film.
6. Hey Mister Heartache
Against the other songs on this album, this song in my mind and ears shows a bit more of a mature voice by Kim. It may well be down to the fact that she sings the song with a bit of an echo, away from the microphone with much more sustained effect. It does however start with a great disco type dance groove and then is replaced by a verse which sounds different as with most songs of the period where the intro really gets feet tapping and diminishes as soon as the first verse starts. Despite that I’m reminded of hearing this at school, simply by the chorus of “Hey Mr Heartache,” and that bouncing bass line and the drum machine overload which is apparent in this song between the vocal passages. Not bad thing really for an album seeped in 1980’s boppiness!
7. You Came
I think I may be one of few people to have this song on 12” vinyl format. I was really obsessed with this song when I heard it at the start of 1988 and amongst other songs from other bands; it accompanied me when I first visited Germany on my first school exchange. Therefore I was besotted with the urgency of this great soft rock track even though it mirrors so many similarities to two of my other favourite songs by Stevie Nicks called “Stand Back” in 1983 and “I Can’t Wait,” in 1986, two years before this song was ever written. As such as it has familiar hall marks from both songs including a loose bass line, synth like in quality, lots of chorus backing vocals to amp up Wilde’s voice, echoes and a fade out of electric keyboard licks which build the song up. It is one of the strongest songs on this album both in stereo and electric synth effects. One of the biggest features is the electronic whistle which moves in and out of the song, emulating the same chorus line and adds a spooky but comforting feeling both at the same time. It also has shades of Aha’s song “Take on Me,” in the way the backing keyboards create that cosy ensemble feeling. I love it despite its poor ending and was a major hit globally when it was originally released. Needless to say the bus tour in Germany was sick of hearing this song whenever people asked me what I was humming along to; the Germans loved it though!
8. Never Trust A Stranger (With Your Heart)
Another great song and one of my all time favourites; similar to the last song, this has shades of another song by another artist and this time it is “Holding out for Hero,” by Bonnie Tyler but it lacks a thumping bass line to drive the song along and a 16 beat rhythm which has sadly been played down in volume. Unfortunately it has the same brass like electric brass moving in and out (which now appears to be a Kim Wilde band staple ingredient) to add interest and a threatening tone. The lyrics are actually better than most on this album suspended by extra drum dubs and loads of creamy keyboards. A good effect though is the “Never Ending Story,” like keyboard qualities both at the start of the song and in the middle. Of course I didn’t hear this when it was launched when I was in Germany and it was great to hear it upon arriving back in Britain, even if the tone of character is evident in this song.
9. Four Letter Word
“Four Letter Word,” is a great love song with a good ingredient of hurt displayed by the way in which Kim sings this song. Its Rumba style drum beat is accompanied by what sounds like a proper string orchestra accompaniment and glinting keyboards. Gone is the slight lightness of Kim’s voice here and it’s a song that has always played close to my heart simply because the lyrics are clear to hear, the story is easy to understand and the verses and choruses are simply followed by clear and easy to follow changes. Of course you can hear the slight change in the way Kim’s voice gets higher but I think that can be forgiven for a slower ballad on this album awash with sometimes difficult songs and fast disco type soft rockers in terms of the styles heard so far.
10. Love In The Natural Way
This song isn’t as strong as the last three songs on The Collection, even though it was the fifth song from the album, “Close,” from 1988. Possibly the reason to why it isn’t as strong is simply because the song sounds like any kind of soulful ballad produced which had a tendency to paint love in its most basic form, clearly defined in the way the lyrics are sung here. It also lacks a lot of backing vocals which I’d have expected this song to have, even when it changes keys, modulates even it doesn’t fill the song with as much sparseness as it does from the beginning, which is probably a factor unlike the rest of these songs so far to why it didn’t chart as successfully as other songs have done. It also has slight nods towards Marvin Gaye’s song, “Sexual Healing,” but with a bit more amped up sound.
11. It’s Here
Similar in sound to Roxette, I think this song is lucky in the sense that it doesn’t many electric guitars and at last has a constant synth bass line which adds more power to a song as well as tons of electric effects spinning off here and there. Whilst this may well lead into the impression that it’s an all electric/synth based track, I don’t think it does this song any bad favours; it certainly helps the lyrics and tone of love which this song paints clearly. Unfortunately it also ties in a Spanish sounding solo guitar however, which is perhaps apt for its era at the time it was launched. Whenever I hear the song at the end, there is a touch of Wilson Philips in the way the vocal harmonies bring the song to a close before it fades out.
Unfortunately I’m not a fan of this song. It has close shades with Stock Aitken Waterman based music from the way it begins showing the listener what the chorus will sound like not helped along by a familiar drum beat heard on other songs – even though SAW never had any involvement with any of Kim Wilde’s songs. It certainly shows their influence though and the song would do better without the accompaniment continually playing along with Kim’s vocal line. It also suffers from having a similar movement to the last song which is never a good thing to put on an album in the way the songs move through the list.
13. I Can’t Say Goodbye.
Needless to say this is a song about love. Certainly from the way it starts with the verse straight away it took me some time to get to know this song. It doesn’t start with much of an introduction but it moves closer to the chorus than the verse would have you believe. As such the chorus is certainly very powerful but mimics songs by Jason Donovan (yep, you can tell I’ve attended many a disco!) as well as other artists of the period. This song was launched in 1990 and didn’t do well in the UK charts. Not even the added string orchestra behind it can do much to it other than add little interest.
14. Love Is Holy
This song was one of the first to be written by outside help rather than her family. Known for his work with Stevie Nicks and then Belinda Carlisle, Rick Nowels co-wrote this track and it certainly shows with the way it begins; it certainly sounds like any one of the songs he wrote for Belinda Carlisle, with a familiar chorus line, electric guitars wrapped around a basic chord sequence and plenty of choral effects in the vocal line and backing vocals. For some that may well be okay if they like the smashing open hi hats on a fast rock beat and the small child like “ahhs” in the backing vocals, but I’m not so easily convinced. I don’t know why I don’t like this song, but it may well have something to do with the Carlisle like chorus. Interest however is good with involving string orchestras in between the chorus and verses.
15. Who Do You Think You Are
Written by her brother and the lyrics by Kim, this song is apparently about herself. Although it is on the same album as “Love Is Holy,” it is far and thankfully away from the Nowels track. We then return therefore back to the 1980’s stomping style heard in previous Wilde songs. This also means a slightly weak verse with a more memorable chorus. I recall hearing it at many a dance club in London for example even though it has no disco type beat. It does however remind me of a song called “Rush Hour,” by Go-Go’s singer Jane Wiedlin which had success here in the UK. But a warning for this song; that familiar electric brass inserts comes rushing back in the middle of the song and stays there towards the end. I’m now beginning to think these electric brass sounds are part of the Wilde band makeup and therefore for some will make listeners wince or wallow in 1980’s feedback.
16. If I Can’t Have You
It’s the same song featured by the Bee Gees and was also put on “Saturday Night Fever.” I have that album and I much prefer the Yvonne Elliman version on the original album. This is just awash with typical end of 1980’s drum machine beats that will probably fit in well with many dance clubs who want an easy track to garner people to hit the dance floor. Unfortunately it also has shades of SAW songs by Kylie and far from them being bad; it just doesn’t sit Kim Wilde in this respect with vocal nods toward early Cathy Dennis songs such as “Everybody.”
17. Breakin’ Away
And this follow up isn’t any better with more of that similar drum machine sound. Whatever Cathy Dennis did, Kim Wilde probably thought she could do better. Whilst I adored Dennis for her new take on songs for the disco circuit, this song sounds very similar, but very rushed through. It will probably bring memories back for someone but I can’t remember it even though it was released in 1995 at a time when I had embraced singers like Cathy Dennis and then Lisa Stansfield had already dabbled with similar styles four years previously.
18. This I Swear
Now this song has a soft R’n’B type feel and clearly shows the direction that Wilde was perhaps moving from. In some ways it’s a slow ballad of love and the song moves well despite its light and airy feel. It has shades of songs that Whitney Houston dabbled with, but despite the love which this song tries to shine the listener with in terms of overall sound and a backing chorus of male and female talent, it somehow works well but remains to be a poor song to end on for what is otherwise a good choice of songs.
** Conclusion **
With a price value of £5 (Amazon presently have it on sale for £1-16 used and £4-97 new before P&P charges) and then an inlay cover showing very little details of just the songs and a little writing editorial of Kim Wilde’s success, there are some changes to this album in terms of the inlay design. Some CD albums have a full mention with the editorial and some don’t. Again it adds up to the cache of adding this album to your collection if you are a fan of Kim Wilde, or ever wondered if she had an album’s worth of hits.
“The Collection” is certainly a befitting title. Whilst there are some poor songs on here, they do chart most of the singles which Kim Wilde produced and for the most part there are some songs worth listening to, particularly if you want to learn about the 1980’s use of airy and light songs with hardly any lyrics which are difficult to understand either in clarity or character content. Yes you won’t find “Kids In America,” “Chequered Love,” or “Cambodia,” as these songs exist on later best of compilations. But even at that, this album is still worthy. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007.
All the songs in short examples from this album can be heard at: (click on the speaker icons)
www.amazon.co.uk has a real player link for this album but its too long to put on here.
Summary: One of the best collections around to get into the sound of Kim Wilde.