Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1983 debut solo album No Parlez by Paul Young. Does this album deserve the Love Of The Common People, or will you be lost for words? Read on…
This album gave us five singles, and hung around in the UK charts for 119 weeks. This longevity earned it sales of around 900,000. Having said that, this is the first time I’ve ever seen it.
Being able to only name two Paul Young songs, I thought I should rescue this 12″ vinyl album from a life unloved, and fill in the gaps of my knowledge.
The album opens with Come Back And Stay, the fourth single from the album, and it’s the perfect opener. It’s a perfect track. Paul’s soulful vocals suit this track perfectly alongside the funky bass, and 80’s styled beat. The backing vocalists also harmonise with him perfectly.
Next up is the Joy Division cover Love Will Tear Us Apart. This became his third single. It’s a pretty good romp, and certainly sympathetic to their original version. By this point, the song had already attracted other cover versions, so I wonder what led Paul to cover it too.
The third song is one of the songs that I’ve actually heard – Wherever I Lay My Hat, which is a cover of a 1962 b-side by Marvin Gaye.
Paul took the song to number one, and it’s often classed as one of the best songs from the 80s.
It’s slow, mellow, and whilst I don’t know Marvin’s original, this is perfectly suited to Paul’s soulful voice.
Following this is the oddly named Ku Ku Kurama, which rides in with a funky bassline, and a deeper sounding vocal style from Paul. It comes complete with vocal effects on the female and chorus sections. This is unashamedly 80s, musically and vocally.
Side One closes with the title track No Parlez, which opens with some great synth and bass riffs. There’s a lot going on in this track – musically with sound effects, and a wide vocal range.
Side Two opens with the thundering drums of hit single Love Of The Common People. This song, whilst it has a slight Christmas feeling to it courtesy of some bells, it’s also a great example of a big sing-along 80s hit.
Oh Women follows this, and it races in at quite a pace. This track is loaded with percussion and bass like several of the other tracks here, but this feels like an album only track. Lyrically the chorus is a bit lacklustre.
The shouty opening of debut single Iron Out The Rough Spots follows, and feels quite different to the rest of the album. It feels borderline novelty or stageshow, but that kind of makes it catchy. Paul’s voice makes light work of it.
Broken Man opens with some strings (synth ones by the sound of it) and Paul’s vocals. This track is quite gentle without any drums, and this gives Paul’s vocals the perfect stage to shine, which they do with seemingly little trouble.
Penultimate track Tender Trap is up next, and the into actually sounds like something from the 90s. The tempo picks up here, and the song bounces along perfectly. This is a real pop gem.
And as with all good things, they come to an end. In this case, it’s with Sex. This track opens with more fast drumming, a few synth riffs. ‘Let me guess what’s on your mind’ he sings. Its percussive intro reminds me of the opening of One More Chance by The Pet Shop Boys, and as it grows, it then reminds me vocally of a few Kraftwerk tracks. I’d expect someone like the Scissor Sisters to cover this song.
Where is Paul Young now?
Paul Young has continued to record and release music as a solo artist – a further 7 albums followed this one, not including a wealth of ‘greatest hits’ styled compilations. Unfortunately, his ability to score a hit single in the UK, has decreased since his peak in the 80s.
His most recent solo single was in 1997, and the most recent single on which he appears is 2010’s Come Back, which saw a sample of Come Back And Stay sampled by dance act Chicane. It reached #151 in the UK singles chart.
He continues to perform as a solo artist and also with his band Los Pacaminos.
POP RESCUE RATING
So, as the album closes, it turns out that actually I recognised at least four of the singles from this album. I think that, to me, Paul Young has been one of those artists who I only hear the huge hits from – those that have scattered his long career. In between, he manages to stay off my radar.
The original CD version of the album included an extra track called Behind Your Smile, and also a few extended versions of the singles. This album received a 25th anniversary re-release in 2008, complete with extra tracks.
All in all, this is a great album, with some truly huge hits on it. Fantastic debut. I’m glad I took a gamble and rescued it.
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1983 UK CHART POSITION: #1, certified 3x Platinum
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a British Heart Foundation store.