Then: It is hard to imagine that it was 30 years ago that a song would be released that would forever change my musical landscape. That song was Kids In America, and the artist is Kim Wilde. I remember watching MTV for the first time at my grandparents house and being completely mesmorized by the video, the synthesizers and of her. I had to have the single, then album, then consequent albums and singles. I joined the fan club, sought out and discovered other electronic bands and realized that Britain had all the good music. After Kids In America, Kim Wilde did not do so well in America until 1987 when her remake of the Supremes, You Keep Me Hanging On, concquered the American charts, climbing all the way to Number 1. She had a couple of near top 40 misses(Say You Really Want Me and You Came), before disappearing forever from American ears. Her success in the UK also began to decline, and with the exception of the occassional moderate hit, wasn’t able to keep the momentum she had built with her hugely successful album, Close.
Now: In 2003, Kim Wilde contributed vocals to the Nena track, Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime, which became a huge hit in Germany as well as some other European countries. This eventually led to a recording contract in Germany where she released an updated version of You Came and new song, Perfect Girl, which were well-received. Now she is back with a new album and lead single, Lights Down Low, returns her to her rockin’ dance years, particularly, Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love) and Never Trust A Stranger.
Our story begins as a young teenager who has yet to realise that the alienation he feels yet can’t explain would be understood once he came out, and who is fascinated by all things new wave (and perhaps slightly unhealthy addiction to Rock Over London), purchases a cassette that would forever change his life. Ironically it would be from the ultimate uncool label K-Tel (“As Seen On TV”) and called, “The Beat”. Never has an album contained such a roster of yet to be established musicians who would later define the new wave and synthpop genres. Artists like Depeche Mode, OMD, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde, Thompson Twins, Go Go’s and Split Enz. This cassette contained their very first recordings, way before they filled stadiums and became household names (at least to alienated youth throughout the USA). Not a dud on the entire cassette (well, except for Graham Parker, but I digress). I immediately fell in love with the OMD track, Joan Of Ark and followed their career religiously which culminated in seeing them live in the US in 1985. The venue was small since this was Syracuse, New York, a town on the forefront of absolutely nothing. It was also at an underage dance club; their target audience were teenagers who knew them from their song, “If You Leave”, a massive teenage anthem, which reached mass appeal after it was included on the soundtrack to the John Hughes film, “Pretty In Pink”. They played an amazing set of synthpop bliss. Afterwards they signed autographs and were very gracious to me as a bent over and had them sign a tour t-shirt I had just purchased. Never had a band been so accessible, and it is still a fond memory I hold to this day. Now where is that shirt?!
The Beat Track List
flock of seagulls: “i ran”
kim wilde: “kids in america”
haircut 100: “love plus one”
sparks: “i predict”
thompson twins: “in the the name of love”
graham parker: “you hit the spot”
the waitresses: “i know what boys like”
the go-go’s: “we got the beat”
bow wow wow: “i want candy”
duran duran: “girls on film”
split enz: “i got you”
depeche mode: “dreaming of me”
omd: “joan of arc”
billy idol: “hot in the city”