You Came – Kim Wilde
Close – 25th Anniversary Edition
74:22 min (disc 1) 74:54 min (disc 2) • Universal • September 2, 2013
Nick Smith reviews
Released at a time when acid house music and Stock Aitken Waterman fodder dominated the charts, Kim Wilde’s sixth studio album Close was her first endeavour with MCA to make considerable commercial and critical impact, although ‘Keep Me Hanging On’ and Another Step had essentially precursed this.
On the back of a major coup supporting Michael Jackson on his Bad World Tour, Wilde released ‘Hey Mister Heartache’ as the lead single, a vivid, funky number featuring Junior Giscombe. The two opening tracks of Close form an antithesis of sorts, ‘Hey Mister Heartache’ being a gutsy adieu to an unfit suitor, brimming with guile and bile, and the epic hit ‘You Came’ immediately casts this aside for a syrupy love story with an almost bittersweet aftertaste that is knowing. Perhaps, this is not a dreamy tribute to a new lover, but rather an ode to a new-born, the lyrics drawing parallels to Madonna’s ‘Little Star’.
In the space of a year, I’ve watched the old me disappear.
All of the things I once held precious just don’t mean anything anymore,
‘cos suddenly, you came –
Many regarded ‘You Came’ as a sell-out for Wilde, pitching her perfectly against chart rivals Bananarama and Rick Astley, and the album was regarded as her relinquishing the wilder, punkier roots, in favour of a more commercial crossover. There is, however, an intrinsically edgier, more genuine feel to this album than the ubiquitous SAW disposable churn at the time. ‘You Came’ was a massive hit across Europe and made a dent in the US charts, reviving interest in the album which initially peaked at 44 in 1988 and then went on to dominate the charts for eight months and is her biggest selling album to date.
Produced by Tony Swain (pre-SAW Bananarama, Alison Moyet, Spandau Ballet) and Kim’s brother Ricky, Close has a rather synthesized sound, as was the wont during this era, but the song writing and Kim’s intuitive and unpretentious vocal enhance the songs dramatically. While she triumphs with classic pop-stompers such as ‘You Came’, Wilde exudes prowess with softer, smokier ballad ‘Four Letter Word’ and breathy, late-night number ‘Love In The Natural Way’.
The soulful and mournful ‘Love’s A No’ is a prefect preface to the fiery, rock stomper ‘Never Trust A Stranger’ where the chorus builds into a massive orchestral hit crescendo.
There are two big surprises on the album. Firstly, the deft and earnest tribute to Greenpeace, ‘Stone’, is an intense and vitriolic track with some shrewd lyrics,
They’re still building and testing,
But what can we do?
Condemning the seas and the land and the trees to a tomb –
The other wonder is a beautiful, stripped down cover version of Todd Rundgren’s ‘Lucky Guy’, rendered more sincere by being conveyed with no gender change to the lyrics.
Remastered on the 25th anniversary of its release, there are also erstwhile B-sides featured, the SAW-lite ‘Tell Me Where You Are’, ‘Wotcha Gonna Do’ being the older sister to Debbie Gibson’s ‘Shake Your Love’ and a soulful redux of an earlier album track ‘She Hasn’t Got Time For You’. Additionally, a mammoth 18 remixes of five of the album tracks are featured. Shep Pettibone transforms ‘You Came’ with a thunderous drum backdrop that echoes both Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ and Jane Wiedlin’s ‘Rush Hour’. A Bomb The Bass style remix of ‘Never Trust A Stranger’ becomes a clever jibe at the press, interweaving excerpts from interviews with Wilde into the remix.
A quarter of a century later, Close falls prey (a little) to the sands of time with signs of some dust on the tracks, but the album is still a feisty and sincere collection of songs that many of her peers would be proud of.