Review – Kim Wilde / Select / Catch as catch can

It wasn’t always about the singles… Kim Wilde’s first three albums finally get the reissue treatment.

You can’t move for Kim Wilde singles compilations, so it’s nice that her studio albums are finally receiving some love. We all know Wilde has made some ace 7″s, but her albums weren’t just the hits plus a load of filler. There are many reasons why Kids in America was so massive. But Wilde’s record label RAK could equally have chosen Our Town or Young Heroes from her self-titled 1981 debut as examples of attitudinal power-pop railing against squares, old people and crap local civic amenities. They would have been just as huge hits.

There are synth-pop touches on Kim Wilde, but it’s essentially a fabulous power-pop record which wouldn’t have been too alien in her dad Marty Wilde’s rock ‘n’ roll heyday: Kim’s avatar of being young, unstoppable and the coolest in her gang will always work – very much the Billie Eilish of her day, Kim.

Second album Select mostly kept up the good work, though attempts to be taken more seriously as an artiste did result in the occasional lapse into now-dated sub-Japan synthguff pretension. At least Wilde was aiming high, and the airy meanderings of Just A Feeling were forgivable when surrounded by more whizzbang struts like Action City and Chaos At The Airport.

By 1983’s Catch As Catch Can, Wilde was entertainingly all over the shop. Rockabilly retro lead single Love Blonde is a fabulously odd film noir moment out of step with anything going on around it. As diverse as the rest of the album was, you could say much the same sense of otherness lurks in most of its 10 songs. House Of Salome continued Wilde’s power-pop excellence, but its storytelling lyrics were a world away from Kids In America. The squelchy proto hip-hop of Back Street Joe holds up remarkably well for what could have been an iffy rap cash-in. Just for good measure, on Dream Sequence Wilde wend goth because, well, why shouldn’t she?

The reissues are expanded with an unusual touch: because Wilde didn’t do 12″ mixes at the time, Cherry Red have created brand new Extended Versions to sound like 80s mixes. Quirky rather than essential, at least the discs also contain all the B-sides and a DVD of videos and TV appearances, too. Throw in coloured vinyl releases for each album and you’ll be reminded there was much more to Kim Wilde than being a singles machine. Wilde was – and still is – damned good at that as well, of course.