I celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary in May . . . but I’ve been in love with another woman for close to 37 years.
I fell for Kim Wilde from the moment I heard her singing Kids in America in 1981. I can’t say what it was that made me besotted, but I became obsessed with her. Until that point, my main music of choice was hard rock and heavy metal, but Kim put all that in the shade for me. When I discovered that she would be signing albums at Boots in Manchester (yes, Boots used to sell music), I knew I had to be there — even though it was on a school day. I skived off from Bury Grammar School with a friend (I can’t actually remember if my parents gave me their blessing to miss school).
My friend had no interest in Kim, but I waited patiently in the queue getting more excited as I got closer to this woman, who was only around six years older than me. As I got to the front, I heard her asking each fan what their name was. So as I approached her, I just shouted “Michael” at her.
She looked at me quite alarmed and said: “Pardon.”
And I repeated, rather loudly: “Michael. My name is Michael.”
I still shudder when I think about how I blew my big moment to charm her.
She signed her debut album for me on vinyl (anyone under 30, ask your parents what vinyl is) and she also autographer the 12 inch version of her second single Chequered Love. I also joined her fan club which saw me receive regular newsletters — which I still have.
And in November 1981, I sent her a birthday card for her 21st birthday. I am convinced that in the subsequent newsletter I can see the card I sent her in a photo of all her cards.
The following year, she released her second album, Select, and followed it with a full tour. Thanks to Setlist.fm (and not my poor memory), I saw Kim at Manchester Apollo on October 17, 1982.
I still remember my mother waiting for me at the back of the venue at the end of the show — she was quite thankful it was a pop act as she normally had to pick me up from heavy metal shows, which weren’t as civilised.
It was another six years before I saw Kim in concert again. Although due to the size of the venue, I basically just watched a video screen. On September 11, 1988, Kim supported megastar Michael Jackson at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. The crowd was so huge that I was miles away from the stage and the video wasn’t in sync with the music. That tour also saw her perform at Wembley Stadium and Roundhay Park in Leeds. I remember seeing an interview where she said she only met Michael Jackson once.
Over the past few years, Kim has appeared at various nostalgia shows, but it wasn’t until December that I saw her again. She chose Manchester for a festive appearance, topping a bill that also included fellow 80s stars Carol Decker (T’Pau) and Toyah. After so long without her in my life, the show was a joyous reawakening of everything that made me a fan in the first place. She could have played all night and I would have lapped up every second. The Manchester Ritz show also coincided with her single F U Kristmas! in conjunction with thrash metal band Lawnmower Deth. While not anywhere near her finest work, it is quite catchy. The strange partnership came from Lawnmower Deth covering Kids in America in their own style.
And now we reach the latest milestone in Kim’s career — Here Come The Aliens.
Kim was inspired to record again after believing she saw a UFO in 2009 — hence the album’s title. Any worries I had about her new material were blown away by the album’s first single Pop Don’t Stop — a duet with her brother Ricky with possibly the catchiest chorus ever written.
Kim Wilde wouldn’t be Kim Wilde without Ricky. He has been with her from the start, writing hits and playing guitar on them. He has also produced the new album. And it’s great to see his daughter Scarlett also involved as a backing singer and co-writer on some tracks — as well as the provider of the album’s striking artwork.
The album opens with 1969, but it was more like being transported back to Kim’s heydays in the 1980s. Like many of the tracks on Here Come The Aliens, it would fit in perfectly well on her self-titled debut or follow-up Select. The song’s title refers to the moon landing of that year, when Kim was nine. “I was there watching it with my mum and dad, as a little girl on the TV and I could not believe my eyes,” she said. “It had a massive impact on me and I’ve been fascinated by the moon and all things to do with space ever since.”
Next up are the two singles, Pop Don’t Stop and Kandy Krush. These are classic Kim Wilde singles — both pure catchy pop. Ricky and Scarlett join forces to write the Goldfrapp-inspired Stereo Shot while Ricky teams up with guitarist Neil Jones for Yours Til The End. Solstice, written by Ricky, Kim and Scarlett is a truly beautiful track.
The Euro-disco beat of Addicted To You sees Kim’s sister Roxanne join Ricky and Sean Vincent at the writing table, while Birthday is a classic singalong Kim song. Cyber.Nation.War is an attack on internet trolls.
Different Story is followed by my favourite track on the album, Rock the Paradiso, which has an intro The Cult would be proud of. This will be a killer song live. Rosetta is a strong finish to the album and sees Kim duet with Frida Sundemo.
It’s very rare that I listen to an album from start to finish nowadays, but I’ve been living with Here Come The Aliens for a week now and have been listening to it constantly. I can honestly say that I have not skipped a track. I love every song and still get a shiver down my spine in the same way I did when I first heard Kim singing Kids in America all those years ago.
If I wasn’t a fan of Kim and someone played me Here Come The Aliens, I’d swear it was a greatest hits album — that’s how good it is; all killer, no filler.
In these days of bland pop music, it’s time to welcome the Queen of Pop back on to her throne. Kim’s been on countless TV and radio shows over the last couple of weeks and it’s great to see the energy and excitement she has. She believes in what she is doing and her fans are right behind her. Kim starts her tour at the end of the month — and I don’t envy her task of coming up with a setlist.
As well as including her countless hits, she will have to decide how many tracks from Here Come The Aliens to perform. I’d be quite happy to hear them all (as long as that doesn’t mean her omitting some of her classics). Tour dates include Glasgow Old Fruit Market on April 2, The Guildhall, Preston, on April 12 and The Lowry, Salford on April 30.
I’ve spent years trying to find a Jewish angle to Kim. The only thing I can find is the song European Soul on the Close album about Jewish artist Marc Chagall. If anyone knows any other Jewish connections, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org