I love Kim Wilde. I have since I was a sophomore in high school and first heard "Kids In America" and her debut album. I was aghast when EMI didn't release either "Select" (shoulda coulda made her bigger than The Go Go's or at least a peer to Debbie Harry) or "Catch As Catch Can" in the States (they even went as far as giving "Catch" a catalog number), practically assaulted the MCA rep (I was working in music retail at the time) for all the promo posters for "Teases & Dares", championed her US ascent with the Supremes cover, and lamented its ambivalence when "Close" failed to click. I'm that kind of fan - the kind that knew about (and despite it possibly rankling my cool-cred, loved) the Nena duet, and was totally on board when "Never Say Never" came about in 2006, and the incredibly underrated "Come Out & Play" in 2010. After proving her mettle (besides still looking pretty great and sounding better than in her halcyon days) on the last two outings, I was initially apprehensive on a covers project. I'm happy to report I was wrong.
The choice of material is pretty varied - some of it works better than expected, some of it leaves you scratching your head. But when it works, it's magic - having first thought Tasmin Archer was Kim when I first heard "Sleeping Satellite" 20 years ago, it seemed like a natural fit, and it is - not detracting from the original, a clean, understated arrangement lends itself well to her voice, and by the time the 'whoa whoa whoa' bridge kicks in, you sense she's claiming it as her own, as I thought it was in its original self. "Remember Me" goes back to the Diana Ross songbook for a very Almighty-sounding dancefloor take, her "Anyone Who Had A Heart" will silence most critics, and to me, the real unexpected gem is her take on Suede's "Beautiful Ones" - she's more than up to the task of taking a classic piece of BritPop and making it all her own, and in a way, selling it as if it were hers to begin with.
When you think of artists who have remained surprisingly contemporary and relevant in their latter years, you might not first think of Kim Wilde, mainly due to the fact that she's been relegated to back-burner status in an increasingly youth-driven pop market. But scour the import section and sample her wares - she's accomplished what so many other 80's acts haven't - staying current, hip, and all the while sounding better than ever and looking fabulous.