Date: 28 December 1986
Originally published in: Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
An afterthought for her new album has put British pop star Kim Wilde back on top of the charts.
She had just finished the album ‘Another step’ – when her record company asked her to do You Keep Me Hangin’ On, on which her brother had been working. Kim agreed to do the old Diana Ross and The Supremes hit but didn’t listen to any previous versions as she wanted to give it ‘an original treatment’.
It worked, racing up to number two in the UK charts and it is likely to have a similar success in Austrlaia. Kim was in Sydney last week to promote the new album. ‘It’s been brilliant. The single made number two in the UK, and looks set to do as well in Europe. ‘The song was originally a hit for Diana Ross and The Supremes. Then it was covered by Vanilla Fudge, and a hit again’, she said. ‘I wasn’t keen on doing a cover originally. It was my brother’s idea to record the song. I hadn’t actually heard the original song for ages when I went into the studio, and I made a point of not listening to it until I’d recorded it because I wanted to inject some originality into it’.
She’s a natural performer. ‘In many respects, I hope so I seem to be getting better at it each year. I’ve learned a lot from my Dad.’
Marty Wilde, a British pop star from the 1960s, has carefully guided Kim’s career. She needed all his help coming to terms with performing. ‘There were a lot of expectations. I remember the first gig I had about three of the national press there, and I was 21 and I’d never been o nstage before doing the set. The whole experience was a complete education. I’ve learnt a lot from those gigs. So I feel confident now of hitting somewhere that’s used to a high quality performance. When I say that I mean America.’
So far Kids In America has been her only hit in the States. ‘I don’t know why – things just never seemed to take off for me there.’ It seems Europe has been her strongest territory sustaining repeated tours. ‘I blew out touring tin the UK after the first tour. I don’t know if that was a really good idea. The lack of success meant we didn’t have any other options. The press were writing me off, and there wasn’t enough momentum. But I just did a really good gig in London before I came out here. We sold out, so maybe we should have toured all the time. I’d like to come over here and do some touring. I’ve learned from the tour I’ve just done in europe that really it’s on of the most essential ways to come across to an audience. I’m not a very clever image person. I’m not terribly contrived. I don’t think my personality comes across at all, which is why I started writing.’
‘Being a pretty face has been the emphasis, but there’s a lot more to me and I don’t think it comes acorss from the photographs and a lot of the press I do.’ Kim says she’s not a natural interview subject: ‘I don’t really want to be asked anything. My style isn’t to ask questions, so I don’t want to be asked them. I’m a big fan of Elvis Costello, but when I met him I didn’t want to sit down and ask a load of questions. If he makes a good rcords, that’s all I want of him. I’m going to concentrate on my writing. I don’t want to let that slip’, she said.
Her ambitions are mostly musical. ‘In the long term I’d like to end up with some rather lovely children hanging out with me. Up to that point I’d like to be an established songwriter. I’d like to hear other people cover my songs and get involved in writing music for movies, not necessarily pop music, but scores. I’d like to get into production.’
So fair she’s turned down all her film offers. ‘I haven’t been given a good enough script. I’ve been offered a lot of tacky stuff. I’ll wait until a decent script come along. It’s a terribly time consuming thing. I don’t want to abandon my musical ambitions. The reason I got into writing was that I couldn’t stand the superficial pop promotion. It became not enough for me. When I started writing my whole career started to gel. Getting into movies would be a step backwards. It would probably just be me flashing my face around and having my hair looking nice. I don’t want to take a step backwards. I also know that looks aren’t really the key to getting things that you want or getting people you want. They are important basic things that make you fundamentally happy. My pretty face might be able to get a few nice looks off some guys, but nothing solid, nothing that’s going to sustain me for very long. I don’t want to rely on something that’s superficial.’