After four years in the pop wilderness, Kim Wilde is back at the top of the charts.
And yesterday, as her reworking of the old Supremes hit You Keep Me Hanging On just missed hitting No. 1 - and she turned 26 - Kim proclaimed: 'At last I've grown up. I know what I want my image to be. Iknow how I want to sound. and nobody can dictate to me any more.'
Kim's gambles have paid off. She split two years from long-time manger Micky Most and changed her image from casual to provocative - and back again. And she started writing her own material. Her new album, Another Step, is proof of new confidence. Not only did she co-write eight of the 12 tracks with brother Ricky, she also produced one track, Missing. Another, Say You Really Want Me, features on the soundtrack of the film Running Scared.
Kim's new success has brough her first live appearance in Britain in nearly three years. She will play at the Town and Country Club in North London on December 8. Kim admits her attempts to change her career could have meant her sliding into oblivion. 'Everyone who makes records wonders if they'll ever make it to the top - or even back in the mainstream - at one time or another. But I decided to put all my energies into constructing new music and a new career instead of wallowing in selfdoubt. Although British audiences didn't really know me, I had a strong following in Europe which kept me going.'
Two years ago, her record company put Kim through a change of image to become a lean and sexy vamp. It turned out to be a big mistake. 'It started off as fun, but very quickly it became contrived and boring', she said. 'I hated having to maintain it all through Europe. In the end I grew to hate the whole concept.'
It was her success at writing her own material - previously written for her by Ricky - which gave Kim the confidence to reject her new image and be herself in public. 'I knew it was a make-or-break move. Luckily I could spend time concentrating on getting my music right. My new attitude, my independence, is reflected in my music.'