Today’s POP RESCUE from a potentially loveless future, is the 1988 third solo album I Love You Avenue from Nick Heyward.
This 12-track album is my only venture into the world of Nick Heyward. I’ve obviously been aware of him and of his long career, so in true POP RESCUE style, I thought I would seize the opportunity to listen to something completely new.
It opens with the tinkling introduction of lead single You’re My World, bursting into a strumming guitar pop track. Nick’s vocals are perfectly pop here, but the vocals vs music level is a little out – and I’m struggling to hear him during the verses. Despite it’s great pop sound and catchiness, sadly this single flopped – reaching #67 in the UK charts.
Brass and a funky bassline open second track If That’s The Way You Feel, and it’s yet another really strong song. I think that this should probably have been a single. That, or he should have given it to The Pet Shop Boys. Obligatory 80s Saxophone gets a little solo half-way through, and there’s also a key change for the final chorus. It’s a dramatic song.
A gentle acoustic guitar ushers in Nick’s soft vocals for third track Traffic In Fleet Street before the bassline and drums join in. This really feels like a warm growing track, as it’s joined by strings. At times I’m reminded vocally of some of George Michael‘s more mellow tracks. It’s a perfect song.
Fourth track is Lie With You, which is another great light guitar pop track, with some great vocal harmonies in the chorus. Again it’s catchy, and well written.
Up next is My Kind Of Wonderful, which opens with some bass synth. This track is musically more electronic and pop. It adds in more Obligatory 80s Saxophone, and some nice vocal harmonies between Nick and his backing singers.
The title track I Love You Avenue follows this, starting off like a TV AM tv show theme, with piano and synth strings, but once past this, it’s a great little 80s pop track. Again it builds – bass, guitars, beats, and synth strings, complete with saxophone.
Seventh track Hold On (Money Don’t Buy Love) is an upbeat funky track, complete with a James Brown-esque screaching sample. It’s nice enough, but it definitely belongs as an album track. I can imagine that it’s probably a fun track to play live.
A throbbing bassline, not dissimilar to The Police‘s Every Breath You Take starts the first few seconds of second single Tell Me Why, before some piano joins in and usher’s Nick’s soft vocals in. The chorus is simple but perfectly formed. Sadly for some reason this single did not chart at all, and it became the final single of the album.
The brass section get another big outing in this oddly named song – Pizza Tears. This is a guitar chugging track. The song title is mentioned once in a verse: ‘pizza tears and nineteen years have come along so fast for a goodtime girl’. Other than this, the song is actually quite catchy thanks to the chorus.
This Is Love is a slow ballad, giving Nick a chance to show off his vocal range against a light mix of synths, beats, and a saxophone. It’s a nice track, but also feels a little generic for an 80s ballad.
Next up is Change Of Heart which reminds me of Yello 80s hit Oh Yeah (chugga-chu-ga!), a-Ha‘s Bond Theme A View To A Kill, and starts off sounding a bit like The Cardigans‘ hit My Favourite Game. It’s a much more up-beat and stronger track, and it’s a great contrast to the previous track. Musically this feels like the most confident track here, and I’m sure that this could have given Nick the much needed hit single from this album.
The album closes with August In The Morning – which opens with some brooding piano and Obligatory 80s Saxophone. Nick’s vocals really have a range to play with here, with bass and strings coming in much later. It feels like a downtempo jazzy number. It’s the perfect ending to the album.
Overall, this album has seemingly been completely overlooked. Whilst there’s a couple of songs that are weak, in total, it’s a great piece of songwriting and 80s pop.
Where is Nick Heyward now?
Nick Heyward has continued to record and release material since this 1988 album. He has had five further albums, but none have managed to capture the same attention and commercial success as his debut solo album in 1983, or that of his previous life as frontman of Haircut One Hundred. He has also spent time concentrating on working as a graphic artist.
He returned to music in 1993, signing to Creation Records, but was dropped the same year after his album failed to make a chart impact.
By his own admission, he now ‘writes and records music and takes lots of photographs‘.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1988 UK CHART POSITION: Failed to chart.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from a British Heart Foundation store.