Kim’s visit preceded by debut album

Kim Wilde will be in South Africa next week (to set local hearts aflutter) but her debut album “Kim Wilde” is here already… if not in the shops, then certainly in my ears.

If this record is not No. 1 in Britain and here yet it soon will be, because this is an album that instantly hits you with its freshness and vigour.

“Water on Glass”, the opening track, lifts the stylus straight out of the groove. The overall sound is a velvet glove with a thundering rock ‘n roll riff chugging through the middle.

No pretensions here. Just pure, unadulterated rock. Kim’s voice purrs seductively through the wall of sound. Debby Harry was never as sultry.

Quaint intro to “Our Town”. Someone’s blowing into a metal tube, accompanied by heavy drumbeats. The knell of Doomsday? No it’s really a potted pen-picture of Welwyn Garden City (which is about 16 km outside London) where Miss Wilde lives.

What strikes one, after several listens to the album, is how young and optimistic these songs sound. All written by 19-year-old Ricky (who also produced the album) and 41-year-old Marty Wilde, they have the kind of empathy for contemporary youth that Chuck Berry’s songs had 25 years ago. That they’re sung by a 20-year-old adds to their immediacy.

The success of the Wilde songwriting team is not attributed simply to the fact that the Wilde write pretty pop songs. The backbone is that the Wildes are in control of their youth.

Ricky and Marty see life through young eyes – ‘We wanna be young’ sings Kim in “Young Heroes”, which stands to become the current youth’s anthem. Yet they are not oblivious to the stringent undercurrents of reality, as Kim observes in “Kids In America”: “Downtown the young ones are growing”.

I’m not sure whether “2-6-5-8-0” is the phone number of the Wilde residence, but my ears tell me it’s an exuberant piece of soul music with a clipped rhythm that wouldn’t be out of place on a Maytals record.

Though the album’s sound is not aimed specifically at any current trend, it is basically pop/rock. “Tuning In, Tuning On”, the strangest track, is definitely futuristic.

Both her singles are here but they should not be the only justification for listening to the album. The Wildes don’t just follow the crusty old road of rock ‘n roll; they have created a whole new highway.