Nik Kershaw was an unusual but entertaining pop star of the eighties, who still releases albums on occasion.
He was one of several synth-dominated musical acts I started to collect at the time, but I never held him in quite the same regard as the likes of Howard Jones which, looking back, was probably a bit unfair. He's certainly a talented instrumentalist and songwriter, and his first two albums remain exceptional highlights of that much loved/maligned decade.
The first half of this debut album is a knockout; tuneful, funny, innovative and endlessly enjoyable. From the dynamic chanting of “Drum Talk” and the clever, appealing “Bogart” (I have to tell you 'bout Chuck, he's indestructable. He is six and one half feet tall, and he's witty and pretty and all-American, I'm afraid
), to the likeable hit single “Wouldn’t It Be Good” (his most famous song of all), Kershaw comes across as a sympathetic and downtrodden character, but someone who is able to give a wry smile at life. His lyrics are silly and yet somehow convincing, while the melodies have hooks that just won't let go.
With the second half however, the record takes a sudden turn to the serious, almost to the point of morose. "Faces" seems to be about a victim of a cult, while "Cloak and Dagger" suggests mistrust of either politics or religion (or both). This part of the record also includes the irresistably catchy single "I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", while "Shame On You" reveals another part of Kershaw's repertoire, his vocal percussion (strange nonsensical noises he makes with his voice as background rhythms). It's sad he never really went much further with this. Maybe there wasn't far to go. But during all this, the music remains impressive - "Faces" in particular is compelling.
The final, title track is a bit bland, and gives the album a pretty ordinary finish, but Human Racing
(which was released a short time before Howard Jones' debut Human's Lib
) remains an item of many delights and musical pleasures. Rated:
by Reviewer: The Doctor