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Kissing The Pink – Anthology 1982-2024 (Cherry Red)

I was 13 years old when Kissing The Pink had their one and only UK Top 40 hit, ‘The Last Film‘. I hated it. I mean well and truly despised it. I thought it was the worst song ever.

A few years later, post puberty, somebody – most likely John Peel, I would imagine – played it on their show, and I was baffled as to how I could ever have disliked, let alone hated, such a brilliant, innovative anti-war song. Nevertheless, I never really paid the matter any more attention.

More than three and a half decades later, Cherry Red have put out a box set of their first three studio albums (of six), none of which I had previously been aware existed. I expect this will be the case for most people, which is a crying shame, as the debut, Naked, much to my surprise, is a stone cold classic!

Starting with that very cult single, what I had absolutely not anticipated was that the next track, ‘Frightened In France‘, was going to be a Frankenstein’s monster of Kraftwerk‘s The Man Machine, The Art Of Noise and early Human League. This is followed by the theatrical ‘Watching Their Eyes‘, a track that suggests the Pet Shop Boys had been paying attention to the synth laden atmospherics, notably the short sharp shriek samples that permeate throughout.

How ‘Love Lasts Forever‘ failed to dent the top 75 I’ll never know. A highly infectious uptempo synthpop anthem, not a million miles away from Our Daughter’s Wedding‘s ‘Lawnchairs‘, which surely should have catapulted the band into the mainstream and made them household names.

The band continue to confound expectations with ‘All For You‘, coming across for all the world like a Parisian torch ballad, before the hymnal version of ‘The Last Film‘, which may have worked well as the final track of the original vinyl’s first side, but feels a little unnecessary halfway through this CD release. Having said that, hearing this incarnation live in a church hall, with its military rhythms and celestial female vocals would be nothing short of awesome.

The mostly spoken word ‘Big Man Restless‘ that opens side two is delightfully art school, and ‘Desert Song’ is an aurally pleasing slice of high NRG. Then ‘Broken Body‘ comes across like Devo or perhaps Thomas Dolby, while the ghostly, ethereal, childlike female backing vocals pierce the ambience like a magpie joining in with the more tuneful shrill of a songbird’s chorus.

I’m going to have to move on as I have several other discs to comment upon, but suffice to say this is one of the great eighties classics and I’m sorry it passed me by at the time.

1984’s What Noise suffers somewhat, by comparison, from that over the top glossy production that was rife during that decade, with its opening gambit ‘The Other Side Of Heaven‘ leaning perilously close to ‘adult’, and ‘Captain Zero‘ giving off vibes of a bastardised version of ELO‘s ‘The Diary Of Horace Wimp‘, as though it had been written by David Bowie. The quality of the band’s songwriting still shines through, and it’s all plain sailing from there on. ‘Victory Parade‘ might even by the best track they ever recorded, its off-kilter lit akin to Talking Heads if they’d taken mind-altering drugs before recording. Once again, the musical styles are all over the place on this album, as though they’re being deliberately obtuse and evasive in order to disorientate the music press of the day. More great songwriting here, a factor that never waned, and arguably got even better with the release of 1986’s Certain Things Are Likely.

Unlike its predecessors, it embraces a kind of ‘smooth soul’ sound, keys warm in the vein of The Human League‘s ‘Human‘ from the off, with ‘One Step‘, whereas we are greeted with uplifting, almost Motown-ish backing vocals on the likes of ‘Never Too Late To Love You‘. The record’s title track is arguably their best-known single Stateside, with a remixed version of ‘Certain Things Are Likely‘ topping the US Dance Club Charts there. If the Pet Shop Boys had been listening to ‘Watching Their Eyes‘, then The Beloved would have undoubtedly been enchanted by this one and sowed that seed in their minds. ‘Jones‘ is feasibly my favourite here, like Talk Talk rubbing noses with Scritti Politti and The Pasadenas. Yet another unexpected twist!

Also included with this set are two CDs worth of remixes and extended versions of several tracks, and, best of all, two brand spanking new tracks that are every bit as good as what has come before. ‘Imagine Everyone‘ in particular is like a dreamy high speed train journey through beautiful landscapes, a little like Faithless in a way.

Never again will I write off a band the way I initially did Kissing The Pink. They are simply magnificent!

Anthology 1982-2024 is out now on Cherry Red.


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.