Date: 17 December 1984
Originally published in: Melody Maker (UK)
Written by: Colin Irwin
Who’s playing dirty, then RAK? No sooner has the delectable Kimmington vacated the parking lot and got herself a new hairdo and a new record deal with MCA and RAK whack out the compilation job. The Very Best of Kim Wilde, though? Surely a contradiction of terms. What you get for your pound of flesh is the still blissful “Kids in America”, the oddly haunting “Cambodia” and lesser hits – like “Chequered love”, “Water on glass”, “View from a bridge”, “Love blonde” and a whole lot of stuff you won’t have heard of. “The very best…” in reality is six tracks out of 16, which is pushing poetic license a bit.
Then, as now, Kimmy was adorable. No great shakes as a singer, admittedly, and the songs the Wilde family furnished her with were hardly Novello Award contenders, but a great pop star nevertheless. The classic pre-Beatles sixties pop star, full of pouting sex appeal, pristine naivety and a voice that clambered around the notes in inelegant yet appealing manner. Whether or not the old man and the big brother contrived it that way is a matter of pure conjecture, but the fact remains that “Kids in America” (at the time she’d never even been there) was a classic of bright, unthinking pop innocence. It’s also impossible to sustain this level of wide-eyed freshness over any length of time and while “Cambodia” signalled a shift into deeper, more ballady territory and “Love blonde” was blatant exploitation (albeit tongue in cheek) of her own sexuality, the delight tends to wear thin midway through each side of this album.
Once you’ve turned over a few nice pop tunes it must be difficult to know where to turn. Having not heard the new MCA album, I don’t know how she’s currently attempting to resolve it, but this little retrospective is more teases than dares…