Recent releases – April 1990

GARY STEEL was listening on an album-release conveyer belt back in 1990. Here are some mini-reviews he wrote for RTR Countdown magazine.

After 7 – After 7 (Virgin) Why is it that every Babyface production sounds like Bobby Brown? This is no exception, so if you’re mad on Bobby, you could do worse.

Beautiful South – Welcome To… (London) Former Housemartins haven’t dried on the line. Wet wet wet.

Regina Belle – Stay With Me (CBS) Yet another would-be Whitney. Slush for gusty sentimentalists.

Bonham – The Disregard Of Timekeeping (Epic) Son of Led Zep drummer carries on his Dad’s business and makes (guess what?) Zep-inspired heavy rock album. Not without the odd piledriving thrill.


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Curiosity Killed The Cat – Getahead (Mercury) Unremarkable fake, blue-eyed, smooth soul from former teen group.

D.A.D. – No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims (Liberation) Danish rough-boy country metal thrashers make it hard with a dash of humour.

Julia Fordham – Porcelain (Circa) A second album in which the British balladeer makes a serious move for the title of the sophisticated set’s Queen Dream.

Nina Hagen – Nina Hagen (Mercury) Hoarse, weathered operatic vocals from hell, noisy guitars and plenty of outrageousness, including a guest appearance from Motorhead’s Lemmy; but it’s not a patch on 1981’s Unbehagen.

Grayson Hugh – Blind To Reason (RCA) White soul singer schooled heavily on the gospely sounds of Al Green and Otis Redding. Pleasant fodder for yuppy restaurants.

Hunters & Collectors – Ghost Nation (White Label) Earnestness equals tedium on this ever-so-concerned, solid Aussie rock album.

Inner City – Paradise Remixed (10 Records) As with Bobby Brown’s remix effort, this rehash actually detracts from the wonderful Paradise album by losing the perfect balance between those sensuous vocals and the cold machinery. For completists only.

Quincy Jones – Back On The Block (Qwest) Not as great in reality as the sum of its parts, this is till a tantalising collection of legendary performers from the entire spectrum of popular black music, from hard-rapping Ice-T to jazz grandmother Ella Fitzgerald. No Michael J though!

LA Guns – Cocked & Loaded (Vertigo) Explosive hard rock which surprise-surprise, ain’t too far removed from good ol’ Guns N’ Roses!

Kym Mazelle – Crazy (Syncopate) She’s a gutsy singer and this is a superior soulful dance album.

Sinead O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (Ensign) Stripped of the first album’s bold pretensions, this is often folk-flecked, sometimes painfully honest stuff from a troubled mind. Worth a listen.

Psychedelic Furs – Book Of Days (CBS) Fans of their jagged, angst-ridden first two albums will delight in this return to form. The lost third album that should have been!

Redhead Kingpin & The FBI – A Shade Of Red (10 Records) It’s been out for a while, but this stylish rap album (with sung choruses) is worthy of the attention it is getting with ‘Do The Right Thing’) (which doesn’t, however, appear on the film of the same name).

Sea Hags – Sea Hags (Chrysalis) San Franciscan bad-boy hard rock. These Guns N’ Roses imitations are getting a wee bit tiresome.

Jimmy Somerville – Read My Lips (London) Ex-Communard buries his Miss Piggy falsetto under eclectic arrangements of disco to drama. Will appeal to Holly Johnson fans.

Original Soundtrack – The Delinquents (Mushroom) Rock and roll and doo-wop classics from the era in which the film is set, plus Johnny Diesel’s ‘Please Send Me Someone To Love’ blues single, and Kylie ballad ‘Tears On My Pillow’.

Split Enz – History Never Repeats (Mushroom) A distinguished Enz collection which confirms their durability and thoughtfully contains nothing from their best album, Mental Notes.

Stage Dolls – Stage Dolls (Polydor) Undistinguished Norwegian pop metal, for incurable Bon Jovi fans only.

Rod Stewart – The Best Of… (Warner Bros) An album packed with husky hits showing how substantial the belter’s contribution has been to the world’s charts over two decades.

Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (Silvertone) Ex-Smith Johnny Marr calls this next Brit hype The Clone Roses with good reason. Fall man Mark Smith also hit it right on the button. He said they were an out-of-tune rock band fortunate to find a great pop producer.

Sugarcubes – Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! (Liberation) Hyped Icelanders deliver second album to unanimous derision. We, on the other hand, think it’s quite delightfully offbeat.

Tanita Tikaram – The Sweet Keeper (WEA) Visually Elvis Presley’s twin-sister, on her second longplayer folkie Tanita is still uncomfortably emulating the monotonous vocal style of her guru, Leonard Cohen, and failing. Nice arrangements.

UB40 – Labour Of Love II (Virgin) Maybe the songs aren’t quite as memorable as their first homage to their inspirations, but this is still a sunshiny collection of goodtime reggae pop.

Various – Stairway To Heaven/Highway to Hell (Mercury) Unintentionally hilarious collection of ‘classic’ rock covers from metal’s brat-pack: Bon Jovi doing Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, Skid Row attempting the Sex Pistol’s ‘Holidays In The Sun’, ad nauseum!

Wet Wet Wet – Holding Back The River (Polygram) Former teen idols go all adult oriented with old-fashioned soul croonings. Admirable, I guess.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Trial By Fire: Live In Leningrad (Polydor) Dazzling fretboard fingerwork-a-plenty, and standard ‘70s-style HM before a total of 240,000 people. Beat that, Kiri!

Note: Back then I would laboriously listen all the way through every promo album that came to my mailbox. I guess I was/am somewhere on “the spectrum”. I had to listen to every track on even the worst records in the unlikely event that there was a glimmer of genius to be found in some dormant LP groove. So each of these capsule reviews represents a good deal of auditioning.



Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

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