With sunshine breaking through my blinds, something that has been a little lost in recent weeks and Kim Wilde coming at me through the speakers, there could be no better start to the weekend! (Housework has never been so much fun). Daughter of Marty Wilde, one of British music’s first generation of burgeoning pop-stars that would go global, Kim would drop her birth name of Smith, adopting her father’s stage name, and follow his path into the music industry. Following on from a foundation year in Art & Design at St Albans College, Kim was soon to be signed by Mickey Most’s RAK Records. As a record-producer Most had been behind more than his fair share of successes, having worked with the likes of The Animals, Donovan, Lulu, Suzi Quatro, and Hot Chocolate among many others. So with 2 decades of successes could he take on a 3rd decade with the young Kim? Well, I’m sure anyone awake can answer that question, as with her first single ‘Kids In America‘ reaching number 2 in the UK singles charts, it was evident Kim was to replicate her father’s success, with the single reaching similar, although not quite the same dizzying heights across Europe and Australia, peaking at number 5. Strangely enough, America itself would and still does prove a harder nut to crack.
At just turned twenty, Kim would see her debut 10-track affair, not exactly break boundaries, but as with Most’s previous work would prove far too much of a catch to evade success. Kim had written an album, with her brother Ricky as well as her father, that would seep into the very being of its time. Even America would pick up on its catchy sound, as I can hear much of what made The Breakfast Club such a success on the silver screen, present within its chords. With its producer’s influence present, I’m sure, the pacing of this album was perfect, from timing to musical influences; this album would be sure to sit on a music fans shelves for years to come. From pop, to rock to laid back reggae, Mickey had done exactly as we now hear on work produced by Mark Ronson – make a star, and with a career that has spanned 40 years, this is exactly what Kim has seen her birth-line and talent produce.
Halfway through the album, we are all encouraged to chant, be it vocally or just in our heads, as the meteoric ‘Kids In America‘ comes in to play and with nearly 40 years since its inception, this still sounds as fresh as the day it was born, albeit with a fashion sense I wouldn’t be caught wearing (Liar! Don’t forget I’ve known you a long time – Albums Ed), although it could be very in-vogue for today’s kids? This is followed by ‘Chequered Love‘, this single, while still a sizeable hit, wouldn’t quite achieve the heights of its predecessor in the UK, although did go on to reach number 1 in South Africa; who’d have thought it? Horses-for-courses. This is an album of differing styles, ‘2-6-5-8-0‘ following on from ‘Everything We Know‘ earlier on the album, with a reggae tone lent to its presentation. How much of a good idea this was, I am uncertain? Only really adding to the album’s lack of fluidity, certainly as I commented earlier, elements of this album can be heard in later media, but in my ears, not making an album. (Horses for courses as you say – for me, those two are amongst the strongest tracks! Ok, I’ll stop interrupting now- Albums Ed).
On this Cherry Pop reissue, however, it does feature additional content, in abundance. The 2 tracks that commence this content outside of the original release, tracks ‘Shane‘ & ‘Boys‘, B-sides, but I would have been inclined to keep these on the album in place of ‘Everything We Know‘ and ‘2-6-5-8-0‘, no matter how much success the latter has received, to have maintained the albums consistency. Perhaps 39 years ago I may have thought differently (and certainly with a younger head on these shoulders, would have been incapable), but that’s what age and experience bring.
Another 2 discs worth of content is now available with these expanded reissues and it’s ‘Kids In America‘ in a Luke Mornay Remix, which kicks of proceedings and wow! A fresh take from this producer was announced on his website and his expressed excitement is projected on these remixes. To say that ‘Kids In America‘ now has hair on its balls might be the most expressive way of putting it! This French contender has done for this track exactly what its original producer lent it back in 1981, put some shine onto it and made more appealing for the table once again. The same follows with ‘Chequered Love‘, that although worked on by a different producer, now has a fresh appeal that has brought it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Likewise with the rest of the remixes here.
A 3rd and final disc is offered, with video content from Kim’s earlier part of her career, with ‘Kids In America‘ and ‘Chequered Love‘ vying for attention alongside BBC recordings (Top Of The Pops obviously) and an Unedited version of the ‘shower version’ of ‘Chequered Love‘, far less racy than its title might suggest! 7/10
Select is the artist’s second album and this time is a far more together work, without the edges heard on her debut. The old cliche is to refer to a band’s “difficult second album”, but nothing like that is evident here, although, without the immediate hits of its predecessor, this works as an album should: collectively and without the need to lean onto any particular part. Far more synthesized than earlier work, Select is certainly a product of its time and Kim’s vocal fitted perfectly to its genre. Released only a year after her debut, we hear an artist far more confident in her self and with the industry as a whole. I am hearing shades of John Carpenter from the atmosphere produced, on ‘Chaos At The Airport‘ for one, but this type of production came of its day, and when Kim and her band slip into ‘Can You Come Over‘, it’s great to hear them sharing a space popularised by the likes of Blondie and The Pretenders, rock ‘n’ roll pure and simple. Finishing up, Kim gets political and ‘Cambodia‘, tells a very eloquent story of its day, something which is reassuring that an artist so easily slipped into the “pop” category can delve depths and produce such a song.
But that’s not all, and as disc one continues into extra content and a subject so easily recognised now, exploring the subject of child abduction and abuse on ‘Child Come Away‘ closing with the line “I won’t give you reasons, so don’t ask why“, dark! But following this, we jump back to what the band does best, with the rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Bitter is Better‘ and another slice of its day. An unreleased number ‘He Will Be There‘ follows, a tale of uncertain love & a timeless subject so often ventured toward by artists from whatever day or genre they come. Although I can’t help feeling that it’s the slightly gritty genre of rock ‘n’ roll that Kim sits best, as with ‘Watching For Shapes‘, a dish that slips down so easily, a non-album track just seems to work.
Continuing to the second disc here The 19:82 Mixes does as it says on the label and again offers up re-workings of the original album’s content. Starting with session selections, a Rough Mix of ‘Ego‘ starts this phase of the release and ‘ever so slightly different’ could be a description well used for any of these, as they’re neither rough nor nasty, just ever so slightly different! I might even concede to the Original Mix of ‘Words Fell Down‘, being ever so slightly better, but all this is down to taste. Luke Mornay offers up visions of ‘View From A Bridge‘ and ‘Cambodia‘, in both vocal and instrumental forms. Big and loud they certainly are, love ’em!
As with its predecessor, a DVD offers video content on the 3rd disc, with the 3 singles; ‘Cambodia‘, ‘View From A Bridge‘ and ‘Child Come Away‘, but I felt this was like reading a book and then watching the film, my interpretation was different and this is something I have never experienced before when watching a music video. But to follow is ‘Kim At The BBC‘, a far more straightforward take featuring live recordings from TOTP and a ‘Nationwide Special: The British Rock & Pop Awards‘ if readers can remember Nationwide, and for those that can’t, think The One Show with a hairpiece! 8/10
Finally, for these re-issues at least, we come to ‘Catch As Catch Can‘, Kim’s third full-length release from 1983 and 3 albums in as many years, even now, is some going, but this saw the end of what might be more commonly known as the RAK years. By this time Kim as a commodity was fairing far better across the Channel and this album found success in both France and Scandinavia, but was a relative failure in her home country. This combination led to her leaving the comfort of the label she’d been with since being a music artist and found her pursuing interests, and a label deal, with MCA.
Easily the lesser of the 3 releases and without a particular direction, or lead single to build its profile, I can’t say this was going to find any particular success, other than in the bargain bins, which, I can remember, it did. A further 2 discs are included here, which as with the previous releases contains alternate mixes and video content. Sadly I just can’t find anything further to say about this set, other than it is very of its time and like some of the TV shows you see rescreened from this era, the first thing you notice is the bad fashion mistakes that were made (shoulder pads and big hair not excused) (Again mate, remember I have photographic evidence of you – Albums Ed) and here it is that the studio oversights were made, like a kid with a new toy, ALL the special effects of the day seem to have been overemphasised, making this a not so enjoyable listening experience and certainly far fom Kim’s finest moment. 5/10
With 14 albums under her belt, it was evident that Catch As Catch Can didn’t prove a swansong for her and many will now know Kim Wilde for her recent work, as a horticulturist and author. It’s great to see that Kim didn’t put all her eggs in one basket, expanded her portfolio and now has considerable financial worth. Not bad for the girl who we once merely knew as ‘Marty Wilde’s daughter’, eh?
Kim WIlde, Select and Catch As Catch Can are reissued by Cherry Red on 31st January.