Love Blonde: The RAK Years 1981-1983

Kim Wilde

Cherry Pop, 2024

REVIEW BY: Peter Piatkowski


Kim Wilde is an artist who emerged from the post-punk, new wave movement in the early 1980s with a hit-filled career that included classics like “Kids in America,” “Chequered Love,” and “Water on Glass.” Recording for the British label, RAK Records, Wilde put out three studio LPs, including her self-titled 1981 album, which is a minor classic. Her following albums, Select (1982) and Catch as Catch Can (1983), are also included in this new collection, along with a bonus disc of remixes. Her smash HI-NRG cover of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” isn’t included in this anthology as this compilation has a pretty tight focus: her first three studio albums, which showed off Wilde’s punky early promise, in which she was reminiscent of Debbie Harry. 

Though an engaging performer, Kim Wilde is primarily a singles artist, so Love Blonde isn’t a collection that would appeal to casual fans, as we don’t get the hits, but rather album tracks. Instead, it’s for devoted fans who want to collect all of the tracks into one place. Kim Wilde is a great introduction to the artist. Working mainly with brother Ricky Wilde, Kim Wilde fronted a group of top-notch musicians, including the prog-rock group, The Enid. The record is a tasty collection of power-pop, punky rock, new wave, and even some ska. Wilde—a vocalist with an alluring, if somewhat thin voice–-serves a pouty glamour to these songs. She’s got charisma and personality to spare and is a great frontwoman. The singles are catchy ear candy; “Kids in America” is bouncy and fun, while the driving, propulsive “Water on Glass” is a rousing rocker. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Kim Wilde stands the test of time with its undeniably memorable pop tunes and high-quality filler tracks.

Wilde’s sophomore release, Select, feels like a natural successor to Kim Wilde. The synth-driven power pop of the album feels like a well-crafted sequel. The album’s lead single, “Cambodia” is the sort of eccentric, faux-socially conscious banger that proved that Wilde wasn’t just a gorgeous spokesmodel for her records but a legit artist. Its woozy synthesizers and ominous chimes create a suitably dark and moody atmosphere for the pensive lyrics. The album’s other big hit, “View from a Bridge,” is a spirited, up-tempo song with emotional vocals from Wilde. Though the rest of Select doesn’t match up with Kim Wilde, it’s still a respectable continuation of the singer’s brand of new wave-inspired pop. 

Catch As Catch Can shows Wilde’s shift in sound, moving away from the Blondie-inspired punk-pop to a more conventional ’80s synth-pop and dance-pop. The music on Catch As Catch Can is fine, expertly written and produced, and it sounds obviously aimed at mainstream pop radio airplay. The record sounds bigger. The synths are wider and brighter, the beats louder, and the studio effects are neon-bright and shiny. Though Kim Wilde and Select are heavily produced, there was an appealing bit of fray and roughness to those songs; Catch As Catch Can is far too polished—Ricky Wilde pours on the studio gloss with a generous hand, and as a result, the record sounds less distinct. 

The final disc of remixes is fine. Longtime Kim Wilde fans would have all the songs from the first three records, so these remixes are probably the biggest draw. Because so much of Wilde’s sound is rooted in dance, her songs work well with their club makeovers. The dance-pop of the Catch As Catch Can singles work especially remixed, the songs getting a camp, queer theatricality with their updates—the fantastic Luke Mornay mix of “House of Salome” is giving Dead or Alive “You Spin Me ‘Round (Like a Record).” 

Love Blonde is a good encapsulation of Kim Wilde’s most creative moments in her career and a good indication of her shift from the punk-inflected new wave to her ’80s dance-pop. It also highlights Kim Wilde’s estimable talents and influence on pop singers who came after her. 

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2024 Peter Piatkowski and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Cherry Pop, and is used for informational purposes only.