Sheena Easton - A Private Heaven (Cherry Red)

Sheena Easton – A Private Heaven (Cherry Red)

Over 40 years ago, on a journey we now know to have been a successful one, Sheena Easton was told that she lacked “rugged individuality”. This after having been discovered through the BBC’s talent search vehicle The Big Time. Shortly after this, she was signed by record label EMI and her debut single ‘Modern Girl’ reached number 8 in the UK and momentum was created as stardom beckoned. Around the time of this album’s release she had met Prince, with, it is said, the late genius having written the controversial song ‘Sugar Walls’, under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind. This is a glorious slice of 80s pop, which certainly bears the touch of the man, with sequencers used to create a fast paced basis to the tune and euphemism fueled lyrics that direct the listener to a place the composer had in mind. Where else would you want to go from the line “…come spend the night inside my sugar walls…” if it weren’t sex related and in a 1980s climate, this was shocking.

‘Sugar Walls’ is track 2 on an album originally released as a 10 track affair, although now expanded to 31 through this new Cherry Red re-release, which expands its single format, to a double CD. Commencing with the number ‘Strut’, a tune which details its time with 80s production on hand, you can almost hear the big hair, shoulder pads and exaggerated makeup. Easton was arguably the first ever reality TV star and now holding dual UK/US citizenship, Sheena’s career had been shaping up for this album’s release, as its predecessor ‘Best Kept Secret’ is very much its younger sibling, in sound and shape. The number ‘Hard To Say It’s Over’ is possibly the only track on the original album which musically hints at her former 1980-’82 self. Although with this set’s additional tracks ‘Have You Ever Been In Love’, it also lets the secret of her former self out of the bag, with a rather flat production and schmaltzy, or over sentimental lyric writing.

But we’re not here to talk about Sheena’s former self. It’s the stars in her eyes, pumped up production, streets paved with gold album that is A Private Heaven. This speaks of the early 80s excesses and American production that makes this album like a bowl of Hershey’s, where just one is never enough. But if this is really not your bag, I would urge you to wait until track 6 brings you Sheena’s remarkable cover of Joan Armatrading’s ‘Love And Affection’. But don’t go just yet, stick around for ‘Back In The City’, as with its use of brass section and 80’s synth, you might just be won over. On disc 2 the ‘Long ‘Roman’ Version’ of Alexander Nevermind’s  ‘Sugar Walls’ shows an even greater vision of the composer’s self, as Prince screams from its bars. This album is, on the most part, pop for pop’s sake,but as the artist’s first meeting with the Purple one, is a great example of the evolution of a career. I love it.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.