Sunday, 27 May 2012

Voice on the radio: Take My Time (1980) - Sheena Easton

1980 was an important turning point in music in which the UK really got to grips with the growing interesting in new wave and electronic music. One of the great pioneers of this genre was the Italian producer Gorgio Moroder who had distinguished himself throughout the late 1970s with a string of hit collaborating with Donna Summer and Sparks as well as the pulsing soundtrack to Alan Parker's Midnight Express. However for me, and I am sure many others, his crowning glory was his work with a young Sheena Easton on her oft overlooked and highly impressive debut album.

Packed full of immediately hummable pop tunes are generously drenched in Moroder's complex synthesisers and drum machine, but here they work well which is more than can be said by the many imitators who were to copy her style over the next decade. The stand-out tracks are of course the hits 'Modern Girl' which has some powerful vocals and a very pleasing (if very dated) synth solo and of course her transatlantic smash 'Morning Train (9 to 5)' - which many people are surprised to find out was one of the late DJ John Peel's favourite records! Even if you haven't heard any other Easton tracks then I can guarantee that you have heard this one so often is it used in sitcoms to illustrate when a usually redundant character attempts to hold down a steady job (usually punctuated by humorous pitfalls and pratfalls).

The overriding reason that this album is so strong is through some very fine song writing and some very interesting arrangement, this record was not about pushing new boundaries, it was about delivering a strong product. Legendary song writing team Bugatti & Musker contribute a couple of tracks (including 'Modern Girl'). There is also a powerhouse rhythm section  and fantastic backing vocals grounding the album and makes for many danceable numbers which is certainly what this album was recorded for - this album is so upbeat you cannot help but smile whilst listening to it! You can almost imagine Eddie Shoestring playing during his fictitious Private Ear show on Radio West between receiving calls about wrongs doings in the Bristol area.

Of course, Easton would go on to have a number of other hits, such as 'For Your Eyes Only' (1981) from the soundtrack of the Bond film with the same name, the highly controversial 'Sugar Walls' with its infamous music video which so upset Mrs Al Gore and of course her turn in Miami Voice as Crockett's ill-fated girlfriend. However it was here, when she was fresh to the industry - as discovered by Esther Rantzen of all people  that I think she was best, that is why I am very happy to give this album a well deserved 8/10 and strongly advise that you purchase this record!

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