Wonderful life

Song written by Colin Vearncombe and originally recorded by Black

Black version

Colin Vearncombe wrote 'Wonderful life' in 1985, at a time his life was in a downward spiral. His marriage had broken down, he'd lost his recording contract with a major label (WEA) after just two singles, he suffered a car crash and he was on the verge of becoming homeless. The title was meant to be ironic, and while the song was in minor key, this wasn't picked up by everyone at first. The single was released in 1986 by the small label Ugly Man Records in 1986 and managed to reach number 72 in the UK singles chart. Signed by A&M Records soon after, the song was included on his debut album 'Wonderful life' and released as the second single from that album, after the first single 'Sweetest smile' had been reasonably successful in the summer of 1987. This time, 'Wonderful life' became a top 10 hit not only in the UK but also in most of Europe, and even in Japan. Worldwide sales were over a million. It was to be a career-defining single for Black, since subsequent singles and albums weren't as successful.

Black - which slimmed down in subsequent years to a one man band featuring Colin Vearncombe - re-recorded the track several times, although these versions were not released as a single. The A&M recording was re-released once in 1994 when the track was used for Standard Life insurance TV ads.

The song was covered by many artists, including Ace of Base, Tina Cousins, Lara Fabian, Tony Hadley, German rock band Hyperchild, Dutch singer Mathilde Santing and Zucchero.

Kim Wilde version

Kim Wilde recorded a cover of 'Wonderful life' for her 2011 album Snapshots.

Versions

There are two versions of 'Wonderful life': the album version and the 'mixed but not mastered' version from the promotional cd of 'Snapshots'.

TV performances

Live performances

'Wonderful life' was performed live during the Snapshots & Greatest Hits tour in 2012 and the tour with Nik Kershaw in Australia in 2013. During live performances, a small part of the song 'Wonderful life' by Hurts was incorporated into the song.

Kim about 'Wonderful life'

1987 was a really important year for me. I did a cover version of 'You keep me hangin' on' with my brother Ricky and it went to number 1 in America. This was just an astonishing moment in my life, but I remember amongst all the pop music that was around at the time - Madonna was churning them out, and Michael Jackson, I mean it was just... Rick Astley, they were all at it. They were all putting out this fantastic pop music - but somehow this really subtle song managed to do really really well in the charts and it was called 'Wonderful life' by Black, and I absolutely loved the song and I remember travelling to the airport to go and do some promotion in Europe and hearing about the news of 'You keep me hangin' on' going to number 1, and hearing this song on the radio and thinking, 'yeah, everything really is very wonderful right now, and so it was sort of like a soundtrack to that period of time for me. Because it really was wonderful at the time. (1)

Credits

Bass guitar: Ricky Wilde
Guitars: Neil Jones & Ricky Wilde
Keyboards: Andrew Murray
Additional vocals: Kim Wilde, Ricky Wilde & Scarlett Wilde
Produced by Ricky Wilde & Andrew Murray
Vocal production by Ricky Wilde
Additional engineering by Pascal Magdinier

Interview source

(1) Track by track commentary, Sony Music, 2011.