The Wilde side of Kim

If anyone still wants evidence that the charts scene is quickly shifting its emphasis back to what happened in the Fifties, there’s the proliferation of British girl singers. They bear no “message”, don’t stand for revolution, but just look good and sing hot songs with dash and flash.
There’s Sheena and Kiki and Toyah and Hazel and Kelly and the Nolans – and now Kim Wilde, whose “Kids in America” will go down as one of the best singles of the year.

Under the eagle eye of master producer Mickie Most, and with the assured background of a family steeped in music, 20-year-old Kim produced an immediate number one with a magnificent hookline, the tightest production heard since the halcyon days of Tamla (not Motown, mind) and a vocal hiskiness comparable with the great Dusty Springfield.
It’s hardly surprising: Kim Wilde has spent her entire 20 years locked into pop music, as opposed to rock. Her father, Marty, was one of the idols of the late Fifties, and now, at the age of 42, travels the country dispensing rock’n’roll and pop wiuth a professionalism that gets him re-booked in many of the halls and cabaret spots he plays.
Kim’s mother, Joyce, is a former Liverpool switchboard operator who saw an ad in a newspaper a few years ago, travelled to London for an audition, and ended up as a successful dancer with the Vernons Girls.
Brother Ricky, a year younger than Kim, is a natural, accomplished musician (guitar and synthesizer) who wrote “Kids in America” with his father and also produced the single. Ricky, having originally wanted to be a singer, now looks all set for a thriving career as a songwriter and is pouring out material, including Kim’s next single, finished and due out in a few weeks. It’s called “Chequered Love”, and will consolidate her debut.
To complete the family of music, 19-month-old Roxanne Wilde was named after the Police song, and there’s a one-month-old baby, Marty.
Growing up in a house full of music, says Kim, she set her sights on being a singer but always felt eclipsed by the talent of her younger brother Ricky. But last July, he asked her to sing on a demo record of the song he had just finished, and they went to a Hertfordshire studio to knock it out.

“I knew it was a hit, and within a month it had been remixed here, in Mickie Most’s studio. The record was all quick-quick-quick”, Kim said. “Ricky and my father wrote it quite quickly, it was demo’d quickly, mixed quickly, and went up the chart quickly.
“That’s the way I like pop music to be: write a good song, sing it, and get on with the next before there’s time to think about it too much.”
One piece of timing, however, was crucial to the song’s success. Most, a music industry veteran who charted the recording careers of the scene’s illustrious past through such artists as Donovan, Animals, Herman’s Hermits, Suzi Quatro and Hot Chocolate, waited until last January to promote the single around Britain at the radio stations.
“In January”, he said, “the entire music business evacuates London for the Cannes festival. Nobody releases new records, especially not great ones. So I did – and I knew it would be playing into a massive seller, because of the scarity of records. And, also, it was in the grooves!”
Kim Wilde is the epitome of what many hit-making pop singers were before pop turned into rock and became arty. Before “Kids in America” changed her life and confirmed her future in music, she was at art college and had other vague plans to enter the theatre.
“I did drama at school, and wrote plays, so getting up and acting or singing in front of people was always something that came natural to me”, she said.
“So when it came for her to go on TV’s “Top of the Pops” she was mentally ready for it: “But not reeking of confidence, because that would have worked against me”.
Despite her family’s background in showbiz which could have made her approach to success blasé, she retains an innocent enthusiasm for what is happening to her.
“They all said I’d be bored by spending a day down at ‘Top of the pops’ waiting to work for just a few minutes. I didn’t think it was boring. It was great – better than working in a coal mine. And I love signing autographs.
“I don’t see why people who like being famous are so cynical about these things. I love being recognised and travelling to different countries…” She had just returned from Paris, where she had appeared on rock star Johnny Hallyday’s TV show, and had also visited Germany.
Her father’s career had shown her the virtues of old pop values, she said.
“I’ve been to so many of his gigs and must have learned a lot from him without realising it. His stage act is one of the most accomplished in the country.
It doesn’t matter whether he’s playing to 15 in a club or 2,500 in a theatre, he does exactly the same show and it always goes down well. I’ve always really admired his professional at work and I want to similar reputation.
[One paragraph is unintelligible]
Playing favourite music in the Wilde house was difficult, with so many people competing for the record player amid the noise of babies. Brother Ricky listened to Devo, Adam and the Ants and the Skids, “but I try to ram a bit of culture down his throat. Actually, we have similar tastes and hardly ever disagree about music.”
Having originally wanted to be the singer, was Ricky now resentful of his sister’s high profile?
“No, he’s now realised he’s got a lot to say as a writer and musician and he will concentrate on that. I think there was a lot to be said for the situation that existed in the old days, when a singer’s writing partner stayed in the background.
“Why is it wrong for someone to write for another person who can’t write but can sing and perform well? I’d be proud to be Ricky, talented in a special way.
“It doesn’t make him any less important than me – lots of people sing their own songs when they’d be better off looking back at what happened ten or 15 years ago, and going out and finding better material than they can write.”
Mickie Most, who has now taken on the role of Kim’s manager, sees a big future for her, and did from their first meeting. But he will not rush her into a concert tour.
“There’s plenty of time for that. We’re talking about building a career here.”
Kim says her parents haven’t actually sat her down and given professional advice on her future, but if she can match their track record, she’ll be more than satisfied. “I’m a happier person since the hit and feel more fulfilled. I’m doing what I wanted to do at last. But I won’t take it too seriously or I’ll go mad.”