Kim Wilde: the rock blonde (1987-1996)

FLASHBACK 1981, it’s busy at the top. A string of pop-rock singers appear regularly for some time at the top: Deborah Harry and Blondie, Olivia Newton-John, Pat Benatar … Others landed with a crash. 1981, the year explodes with Kim Wilde ‘Kids in America’. Fifteen years on, the lovely Kim is still in the race. She is thus one of the greatest British solo singers of all time with six million albums and more than eleven million singles sold. In late 1995 the lovely Kim Wilde returns to the music spotlight with her tenth album entitled ‘Now and forever’. After having covered the beginnings of his career in his No. 14, Juke Box Magazine offers here the second part of her meteoric rise in music. This takes us to 1987, the year of her dazzling return to the forefront of the international scene with ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ – a number one it in the USA, Canada and Australia, to 1996 with her latest CD, the beautifully named ‘Now and forever ‘.

Kim Wilde has that slightly haughty grace to those to whom life has given everything: beauty, success, money, a grimace at the BB, the tousled blond and curvaceous girls. Daughter of Marty Wilde, pop-star years 50/60, Kim has naturally followed the path of her father. At 20, she recorded her first single, ‘Kids in America’, and wonders whether it was just a freak hit. Since then, duly chaperoned by Joyce, her mother, who acted as her agent, Marty, her dad who takes care of the production of her music, and even by her brother Ricky who composed the music with her songs, Kim Wilde never gave prey to the shadows, working hard for fifteen years.
In April 1987, returning from a promotional trip to America for ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ has made a great hit. Together with George Michael, Boy George, Elton John, etc.., Kim participates in charity concert Stand By Me, at Wembley, of which the profits are paid in full to the research against AIDS. For this good cause Kim sings for the first time in public with her father Marty Wilde (ex-rocker of the Fifties), accompanied by her brother Ricky at the piano. She interpreted in duet with Marty ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’, a classic song by Elton John, who is very touched by his cover. He will not fail to invite her to his next anniversary to thank her. Kim Wilde was at the height of the first part of his young career with her cover of the Supremes’ ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’, No. 1 in the USA, Australia and Canada, and her duet ‘Another Step (Closer To You)’ with Junior, written by her, moved up to the 6th place in the British charts. In June 1987 the British public is treated to a new single from the album ‘Another Step’ from 1986: ‘Say you really want me’, a song that appears on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Running Scared’ of the same year. The video for ‘Say You Really Want Me’ is censored by the British television channels because we see Kim wearing a simple body, lying on a bed surrounded by four boys in underpants. The BBC found this clip too sensual to be broadcast at prime time. ‘Say you really want me’ reaches the 29th position in the charts. In addition, a poster from the video is available to purchasers of th 12″ single. In France, despite the non-commercialization of this single, 200,000 spectators, in September 1987, have the privilege of cheering her on stage at La Courneuve, in the framework of the Festival of Humanity. The audience was enthralled to hear Kim Wilde interpret in French ‘Premiere Rencontre’, a song written by Michel Berger and sung originally by Françoise Hardy.


Kim then disappears for a moment from the scene, to prepare her next album in collaboration with Tony Swain, who previously produced many artists such as Alison Moyet, Spandau Ballet, Donna Summer, etc.. However, in December 1987, Kim Wilde in duet with British comedian Mel Smith, records for ‘Comic Relief’, a charity, the cover of a success that has brought joy to Brenda Lee at the end of the Fifties, ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree ‘, which reached, the 3rd place of English charts. It may be noted that ‘Mel & Kim’, in the video accompanying the single, enjoy the presence of the group Curiosity Killed The Cat and puppets of the Spitting Image programme, very popular at this time. In May 1988, a new single was released in Britain and Europe, ‘Hey mr heartache’, with the B-side ‘Tell Me Where You Are’. In France, the single ‘You Came’ is released, because MCA-France prefers that track in preview of her new LP ‘Close’. This single was very well received by the public and the album is excellent, each piece being a power hit. Kim Wilde is back in first place in international rankings. Her hour of glory is ringing again. Moreover, after much discussion, it was finally Kim Wilde who is selected to sing the first part of the European concerts by Michael Jackson Bad Tour during the summer 1988. A golden chance for Kim who seizes the opportunity to promote her album ‘Close’. Bravely, she faces thousands of spectators who want to see their idol, and she manages to be heard everywhere. It is said that it would be Michael Jackson himself who, having enjoyed her version of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ (initially interpreted by his godmother Diana Ross with the Supremes). It’s a real tribute to her talent.
Concurrently, the album ‘Close’ is certified gold or platinum all over Europe. This disc remains her biggest-selling album. Next up was the single ‘Never trust a stranger’ with an unpublished B-side ‘Wotcha Gonna Do’, a bonus for collectors, an initiative that reproduces fairly regularly over the singles. In this song, Kim gives advice to never confide one’s feelings to a stranger. In France it’s the second and final excerpt from ‘Close’. The British, who are still luckier than others, are entitled to two other 45s: ‘Four Letter Word’, with, B side, an unreleased remix, ‘She Has not Got Time for You’, a  song that originally appears on the LP ‘Another step’ in 1986, and ‘Love in the natural way’ / ‘You’ll Be The One who’ll lose’. But nothing new since the two pieces are from the last album. These discs, like the previous singles reach the top 10 in Britain. Meanwhile, Kim Wilde is present at the first LP recording of the British band Johnny Hates Jazz, as a singer on the song of the same name as their album, ‘Turn back the clock’. Then, in order to conquer the U.S. market, the single ‘You Came’ is remixed by Shep Pettibone, known for his previous production with Madonna. A delight for collectors because the artwork is sublime: totally different from European and the American maxi includes exclusive versions, including two highly original dub versions.

Love Moves

Then Kim Wilde captured a period of well deserved rest. To be closer to her family, she took the opportunity to acquire a property in Hertfordshire where she decides herself how to restore it. However, in spring 1989, she provides backing vocals on the 45s ‘Spirit of the forest’ (B side) recorded for the benefit of ecological protection of the Amazon rainforest, with Debbie Harry, Chris Rea, Iggy Pop, Pink Floyd, etc.. Only in May 1990 that the English fans and Europeans discovered her new single, ‘It’s here’ / ‘Virtual world’. It is only the 42nd spot in the charts in Britain, despite the publication of a box with a poster to promote it. The single ‘It’s here’ captures the musical tone of the forthcoming album. The sound has evolved a lot although it reminds a little bit of ‘European Soul’, a song included on the LP ‘Close’. Kim Wilde appears to be not very fit, bloated, neglected, very different from what we knew. The album ‘Love Moves’, distributed in late May 1990, is very surprising and disappointing: a segment of the audience who do not find here the quality of ‘Close’ leaving yet well presage the future. This is also the album that many fans like the least of her discography. In France, MCA ignores ‘It’s here’ and decides to release the single ‘Can not Get Enough (Of Your Love)’, one of the better songs on ‘Love moves’, which enters into our Top 50 nationally. The most remarkable feature of these two 45s is that they have the same cover and the same B-side: ‘Virtual world’. ‘Can’t Get Enough’ is a pop-rock theme on which the blonde English complains about a boy whose charm was totally entranced. After the failure of ‘It’s here’, ‘Can not Get Enough’ is distributed in Germany and Europe (with the exception of England who preferred to ‘Time’) with a different sleeve, and B-side ‘Someday ‘(also included on the last album), but this disc gets a minor succes. Then, for the promotion of ‘Love Moves’, Kim Wilde from the Netherlands to ensure the first part of the tour by David Bowie for a few days only. In 1990, Kim can not really promote her new album, except in France or the public especially appreciates its catchy choruses. October sees another excerpt, ‘World in perfect harmony’ with the B-side ‘Can not Get Enough’. This song written by the hand of Kim Wilde discusses the problem of the environment. The song is alleged to be a little boring and look like a ‘You Came’.
In England, after the first two consecutive failing singles from ‘Love Moves’, who can not win on the market, MCA hesitated to publish a third single. Nevertheless, in December 1990, the English may purchase in record shops ‘I can’t say goodbye’, the last song from the album. The B-side is a megamix of her old hits, co-produced by the team Sanjazz. Despite the many ways of promoting and the release of a box at Christmas, ‘I can not say goodbye’, containing a calendar, and many television appearances of Kim Wilde, the single does not appear in the charts.
Yet Kim had become very invested, with his brother Ricky Wilde, writing in the songs ‘Love Moves’. And she can not understand why this album was received so modestly by the public. In early 1991, the LP had not had the expected success and business heart was not great, Kim is entering a period of depression. She decided to flee and leave London to move into her new home in the countryside, in Hertfordshire, and thus be closer to his family, to overcome her problems better. 1992 came and the fans of Kim Wilde began to become seriously impatient because more than a year had passed without releasing a new disc. The wildest rumors about her were running: it was said that she would have definitely decided to abandon music, moving to Australia… Finally, in spring, the new 45, ‘Love is holy’, is distributed. This composition is signed by Rick Nowels who formerly worked with Belinda Carlisle. The B side, unpublished, ‘Birthday Song’, is dedicated to her niece Scarlet. The melody of ‘Love is holy is very captivating. We can not remain insensitive to listen to this theme that allows a Kim Wilde back in 19th place in the lists in Britain and included in the TV show Top of the Pops which she particularly likes.

Love is

Although she says unhappy in love, Kim Wilde offers with her new album, ‘Love is’, eleven tracks, all the passion of love, against a backdrop of pop-rock. This disc is co-written with his brother, with the exception of ‘Love is holy’ and two other titles that Kim recorded in Los Angeles with Rick Nowels. One also discovers’ Heart over Mind’, composed by David Munday and Sandy Stewart, who will be a second single in England with the unreleased B-side ‘I’ve found a reason’. The cover of ‘Love is’ is superb and unveils a Kim Wilde at her best, less wild but much more svelte and sophisticated. Then in September 1992 in Europe (except France), a third excerpt from ‘Love is’ is released,’ Who do you think you are?’ with, for English, a previously unreleased remix of ‘Try again’ on side B. Kim wrote this song to denounce the artists who lose their heads when they have success and abuse the star system. Unfortunately, this piece fails to climb the charts and disappeared faster than it was in there. In France, it was not until November for a second and final single from ‘Love Is’ was marketed: ‘Million Miles Away’ / ‘The Light Of The Moon (belongs To Me)’, Roxanne, Kim’s younger sister, provides the backing vocals. But, nothing new since the two songs are from the album. To promote this single and ‘Love Is’, Kim began a tour in Germany including a concert in Munich was broadcast on radio and on TV channels. Meanwhile, Kim indulges in various activities. She flew to Japan to join the racing driver Nigel Mansell who confesses to be one of her fans since the beginning and wants her to become the godmother of the Formula 1 team Williams-Renault. Kim is also the only person outside the team to have the chance to ride in Nigel’s car.
In France, Laurent Voulzy started his tour at the Casino de Paris and, to his great surprise, the one for whom he wrote the hit ‘Les Nuits Sans Kim Wilde’ joins him on stage to perform with him, Belle-Ile-en- mer. The entire room vibrates listening to Voulzy accompanied by this charming singer.
In early 1993, Wilde returned to the studio and working on new songs that will be included on a compilation tracing the entire career of Kim since her debut. During this break, his former label EMI took the opportunity to spring out a compilation of her early successes at Rak ‘Love Blonde: The Best of Kim Wilde’. Its cover is identical to that of the album ‘Catch as catch can’ of 1983, which much to the despair of the fans, never appeared on CD. ‘Love blonde’ is available in audio and video cassettes and CD featuring the unreleased (in laser) ‘Watching for shapes’ (B-side hit ‘Cambodia’) and maxi versions of “Love Blonde” and “Dancing in the dark ‘. This is also the main attractions of this compilation for collectors. Australians have their right to LP ‘The Best Of Kim Wilde & Sheena Easton, which includes nine of Kim’s top hits on Rak. In early summer 1993 the single ‘If I Can not Have You’ is released in Britain with the novel B-side ‘Never Felt So Alive’, written by Ricky and Kim. It’s a very rock song in the spirit of the first compositions. ‘If I Can’t Have You’ is the cover of a song written by the Bee Gees is on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’, interpreted by Yvonne Elliman. Another surprise! Kim said that MCA desiring to produce a new ‘best of’, they needed a successor to advertise, choosing a cover for more security. Mandy, Ricky’s wife, submitted the idea of this song. This project has her taking much heart, Kim Wilde performs a marathon promotional in Europe, Australia and Japan. ‘If I Can’t Have You’ is successful in the charts, reaching 12th place in England and the first in Australia or the single and, later, the compilation will be crowned platinum. In November 1993 was released in Europe (exceptoin of France) the 45s ‘In My Life’, remixed by the group West End, opposite B, the original version from the album which recalls the career of Kim Wilde A to Z: ‘The Singles Collection 1981-1993’. Japan and Australia, along with its release, MCA sells the mini-album ‘The Remix Collection’ on which you can hear the maxi versions of hits on ‘The Singles Collection’ including a previously unreleased remix of ‘Kids in America (The Maranza mix) ‘.

Paris La Cigale

In late January 1994, Kim Wilde, for the promotion of this compilation, along with her brother Ricky and her faithful band, begins a tour. The Hits Tour, which happens in countries where she had never appeared before, such as Australia, Japan and some Eastern European countries. This journey began in France at the MIDEM in Cannes. Three continents, Europe, America and Asia, the same night are represented by three artists belonging to MCA: Kim Wilde, Trisha Yearwood and Mari Hamada, the Japanese singer who would later be the first part of concerts during Kim’s tour. Critics do not miss the next day to greet her dazzling performance and write: ‘Over time, the delicious Kim has not lost her pretty face sullen or qualities that make her one of the best artists from the British rock scene.’ January 31, 1994, Paris, La Cigale vibrates under the voice of the ‘love blonde’. Kim is always so charming and offers a full recital of all the hits that made him famous, including ‘If I Can not Have You ‘, her disco cover. However, to remind us that she is primarily a rocker in the soul, Kim does not hesitate to perform ‘Real Wild Child’, a very rock song already performed by Iggy Pop. Just before her second concert at La Cigale, June 26, 1994, MCA distributes the single ‘Kids in America 1994’, the first hit by Kim remixed by Cappella, a group popular in the world of dance. Since it is very difficult to promote, this version does not get a huge success in Europe, apart from Finland where she manages to climb to the 9th place. This failure is also due in part to the fact that many fans prefer the original ‘Kids in America’ written by Ricky and Marty, who was behind the huge successful career of Kim Wilde in 1981.

Now and forever

After one year of silence, September 25, 1995 appears in Europe’s new single ‘Breakin’ away ‘with the unreleased B-side ‘Staying With My Baby’. ‘Breakin’ away’ is a very dance piece, remixed by Matt Darey, a famous London DJ, distributes a preview of his new album. November 6, the latest LP by Kim Wilde, ‘Now and forever’, is finally sold. Kim wrote most of the songs with her brother Ricky. Her voice has lost none of its effectiveness. It must be said that Kim Wilde devotes all her time, her energy, her whole life to her music career and without her family, she is nothing! And it leads past fifteen years her career with a handful of unequaled energy. This CD is very surprising, different from what we were accustomed to from her so far. It reveals soulful, beautiful ballads like ‘Hold on’ and dance music like the very last hit single ‘Breakin’ away’ or ‘Heaven’ which should be the next single. Some tracks were remixed in Los Angeles by a team of American DJ to promote in the clubs. For this project, Kim and Ricky also worked with the biggest producers of the moment such as CJ Mackintosh and Serious Rope. However, ‘Now and Forever’ does not really contain the one great song that could become a huge hit like ‘You Came’ or ‘You keep me hangin’ on ‘, somewhat disappointing for part of her diligent fans. It is nevertheless hoped that this disc has enough market to allow Kim to consider a European tour in 1996, as she wishes. Kim Wilde fans are waiting impatiently for this. Yet they still have to wait since last March 5 at the Shaftsbury Theatre in London, Kim Wilde took over the role of Mrs.. Walker in The Who rock opera “Tommy.” The production was carried out under the responsibility of its creator himself, Pete Townshend. As Ann-Margret in the film version, Kim embodies the hero’s mother, in this case interpreted by Paul Keating. And if one were to give a prize to the most adorable singer of the moment I would not be the only one to vote for Kim Wilde. Sweet, smiling, always available for her fans, even when his schedule has a rather hellish pace, Kim is a girl we can adore, especially when mixing the language of Shakespeare and Moliere during his interviews. And besides, she really has an amazing talent!