Tanita Tikaram – Ancient Heart (Epic #330)

The Epic 2017 Project #330: 171126

Tanita Tikaram – Ancient Heart (1988)

Tanita Tikaram was just 19 when she released her debut studio album ‘Ancient Heart’ on Warner Music in September 1988. The album had huge success and was a hit globally, launching Tanita’s mainstream career. Guest musicians included Rod Argent, Mark Isham, Peter Van Hooke, Paul Brady, and Brendan Croker. Argent and Van Hooke produced the album. The record included four singles – Good Tradition, Cathedral Song, World outside your window and Twist in my sobriety.

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Transvision Vamp – Velveteen (Epic 2017 #305)

The Epic 2017 Project #305: 171101

Transvision Vamp – Velveteen (1989)

Velveteen is the second album from Transvision Vamp. Released in 1989, a year after their debut album Pop Art, the album provided such hits as “Baby I Don’t Care” which reached number 3 in the UK and Australia. Velveteen went on to peak at number 1 on the UK album charts in 1989 and number 2 in Australia where it became the 39th highest selling album of the year (Pop Art was number 25).

Sade – Diamond Life (Epic #279)

The Epic 2017 Project #279: 171006

Sade = Diamond Life (1984)

Diamond Life was Sade Adu’s (better known by just her Christian name) debut studio album, released in the UK on 16 July 1984 by Epic Records.

After studying fashion design, and later modelling, Sade Adu began backup singing with British band Pride. During this time Adu and three of the original members of “Pride” – Paul Anthony Cook, Paul Denman and Stuart Matthewman – left the group to form their own band called Sade. Following various demos and performances, Sade received interest from record labels and later signed to Epic.

Recording for the album began in 1983 at The Power Plant in London and took a total of six weeks to complete. The album’s content was written by the group Sade whilst the production was handled by Robin Millar. A total of fifteen songs were recorded for the album with the use of live instruments that used sonically experimental material. The album contained a variety of musical elements including soul, jazz and sophisti-pop, with lyrics revolving mainly around themes of love.

Upon release, Diamond Life was met with acclaim from music critics and went on to win the Brit Award for Best British Album in 1985. Commercially the album was a success charting highly in the UK and US, and was later certified multi platinum in both regions. Diamond Life went on to sell over six million copies worldwide, becoming one of the top-selling debut recordings of the ’80s and the best-selling debut by a British female vocalist, until Welsh singer Duffy released her debut studio album, Rockferry in 2008. The album spawned four singles including the hit singles “Your Love Is King” and “Smooth Operator”.

Queen – Hot Space (Epic 2017 #242)

The Epic 2017 Project #242: 170830

Queen – Hot Space (1981)

Hot Space – Queen’s tenth studio album – was released on 21 May 1982 by EMI Records in the UK and by Elektra Records in the United States. Marking a notable shift in direction from their earlier work, they employed many elements of disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music for this one. This made the album less popular with fans who preferred the traditional rock style they had come to associate with the band. Queen’s decision to record a dance-oriented album germinated with the massive success of their 1980 hit “Another One Bites the Dust”.

“Under Pressure”, Queen’s collaboration with David Bowie, was released in 1981 and became the band’s second No.1 hit in the UK. Though included on Hot Space, the song was a separate project and was recorded ahead of the album, before the controversy over Queen’s new disco-influenced rock sound. The album’s second single, “Body Language”, peaked at No.11 on the US charts.

In July 2004, Q magazine listed Hot Space as one of the top fifteen albums where great rock acts lost the plot. Most of the album was recorded in Munich during the most turbulent period in the band’s history, and Roger Taylor and Brian May despised the new sound, with both being very critical of the influence Freddie Mercury’s manager Paul Prenter had on the singer.

Having said all that, I still really like the album – and for all the right reasons. Here’s ‘Back Chat’

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) – The Pacific Age (Epic 2017 #195)

The Epic 2017 Project #195: 170714

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) – The Pacific Age (1986)

The Pacific Age was the seventh album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, released in 1986. “(Forever) Live and Die” became the group’s third hit single in the US and returned the group to the top 20 in the UK, peaking at number 11.

For the first time, brothers Graham and Neil Weir were formally credited as full members of OMD for this album. They had been involved with the group as session musicians since the re-recording of “Julia’s Song” in 1984 as a “Talking Loud and Clear” single B-side, and were credited as “also playing” musicians on the 1985 album Crush. The single “(Forever) Live and Die” was written by the Weir brothers with Paul Humphreys.

Owing to label-enforced time constraints, the first nine songs written for The Pacific Age appeared on the album. Two new songs, “Cajun Moon” and “Cut Me Down” were almost featured, but according to Andy McCluskey, “democracy won out”. 1983 holdover “Heaven Is” was nudged off in favour of “Flame of Hope” (“Heaven Is” was eventually included on 1993’s Liberator).

The Pacific Age met with negative reviews from the British music press.Melody Maker described the record as “Wheezing, crumpled and limp… a bitter, bitter disappointment”. In Sounds, it was portrayed as “Slick and slobbery, just a bunch of bored (sounding) professionals really”.

In a retrospective review, Trouser Press said: “Except for the smoothly contrived hit “(Forever) Live and Die” and the catchy “We Love You,” this dilettantish mess is less a set of songs than a meaningless collection of sounds.” A more favourable Dave Connolly of AllMusic noted “OMD’s mastery of melody and mood” and wrote that the group “continues to string snippets of sound together to create interesting patterns”, as well as “bring their technical skill to bear on a few cuts”. In a 2013 online poll, The Pacific Age was voted the 46th best album of 1986 based on the opinions of almost 53,000 respondents.

Andy McCluskey said that on The Pacific Age, the band had “lost the plot” due to being afforded “no real time to take stock and write some decent material”; he also feels that the album’s production “just doesn’t sound like [OMD]”. McCluskey noted that the record features tracks he wishes the band had never released, but considers “(Forever) Live and Die” to be “a good song”

So here it is…

Katrina & the Waves (Epic 2017 #139)

The Epic 2017 Project #139: 170519

Katrina & The Waves (1985)

Infamous now for taking the UK to the winning slot in the 1997 Eurovision song contest with ‘Love shine a light’, Katrina & the Waves formed back in 1981.

Their biggest commercial success came with this, their third studio album, released in 1985. The majority of tracks were re-mixed and overdubbed versions of songs that had appeared on their first two albums, but “Walking on Sunshine” and “Going Down to Liverpool” were entirely re-recorded versions of songs from their first independently released album.

‘Walking on Sunshine’ became an overnight international success on it’s re-release, but it was originally written by Kimberley Rew for Katrina and the Waves’ 1983 eponymous debut album. The re-recorded version was the second single from the self-titled third album, reaching No.4 in Australia, No.9 in the United States, and No.8 in the United Kingdom. It was the Waves’ first US top 40 hit, and their biggest success in the United Kingdom until “Love Shine a Light” in 1997.

Royalties from airplay and advertisements of “Walking on Sunshine” have been extremely high. Katrina and the Waves kept the publishing rights and the royalties that typically go to the songwriter have been divided among the band members. Estimates are that the song has earned at least $1 million per year for the ten years ending in 2010. According to a former employee of EMI, “Walking on Sunshine was the crown jewel in EMI’s catalog,” and that it was one of EMI’s biggest earners from advertisers.

In August 2015, the song was acquired by BMG Rights Management for £10 million, along with all the other songs written by Kimberley Rew and Katrina and the Waves.