Review: “Ancient Heart” by Tanita Tikaram (Vinyl, 1988)

Today’s POP RESCUE from a loveless fate, is the 1988 vinyl debut solo album Ancient Heart by German-born Tanita Tikaram. Does this album evoke old feelings, or has it had its day? Read on…

Tanita Tikaram - Ancient Heart (1988) album
Tanita Tikaram’s 1988 album ‘Ancient Heart’

This 11 track album opens with A Good Tradition, an up-tempo track that captured the attention of the charts, and mine too. I remember hearing this on the BRITS 89 album. It’s catchy, a kind of folky pop, and perfectly formed. It’s no wonder that this was her lead single.

Next up is third single Cathedral Song, which is a gentle acoustic ballad, pitched against Tanita’s unmistakable rich vocals. It reminds me a little like something you’d get from The Beautiful South at around this time.

Sighting Innocents is up next, and this track is a kind of mid-way in tempo and tone of the previous two tracks. Up-beat in a summery way.

Fourth song, I Love You, reminds me a fair bit of Dido‘s Thank You, and i’m pretty sure that you could sing that over the top of some sections. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s actually quite a nice mellow song.

Next up is World Outside Your Window. This is another up-beat track, and I correctly guessed that this made it as a single (her fourth and final from this album), but as also guessed, it was not as successful as the others – stalling in the UK at #58. At times, the melody in the verses reminds me of her other big early hit, Twist In My Sobriety, which features on the second side of this album. It’s here that I hear echoes of Chrissie Hynde.

Side One ends with For All These Years, which opens with brass – trumpet and flügel horn. It sounds slow, mellow, perhaps almost sultry, and seems loaded with a slight downbeat tone – with reminiscent lyrics.

Side Two opens with Twist In My Sobriety – a huge hit, and a fantastic song – both musically and lyrically, and of course, it’s home to a hit-making oboe.  It’s a delight to hear it again, and here in the context of her album.

‘Today is my birthday’ starts Tanita on next track Poor Cow. As soon as I saw this track listed on the sleeve, I knew I had to see which way this song  was going to go. Rather than being cursing, it’s actually quite a mellow track, and also the shortest on the album. I’m trying to work out whether it’s a pro-vegetarianism song, or a wry  critique of men attending a party.

Blues tones lead next track He Likes The Sun. There are a few similarities here with Twist In My Sobriety until it bursts about 2/3rds of the way into a fast break. However, it soon returns to its slow, cool, mellow sound.

Gentle tinkling piano opens Valentine Heart. This is soon joined by Tanita’s vocals here, and it really gives her the place to showcase her rich voice. She’s soon joined by a cello, violins, and viola. There’s no beat on this track, and I’m glad. It is quite simply beautiful.

The beauty continues as the album closes with the track Preyed Upon. It is rich with lush strings, pitched against a gentle bass and drum rhythm. Tanita’s vocals, as with the previous track, really shine here. This is a perfect ending to a great album.

Tanita Tikaram’s 1988 lead single ‘Good Tradition’

Where is Tanita Tikaram now?

Tanita has continued to record and release albums, although the frequency of these has slowed. Her most recent, Can’t Go Back in 2012, fell outside of the Top 100 in the UK album chart.

She continues to perform, but has so far failed to get close to the commercial success of this debut.


I’m also amused to see that on this 1988 album’s sleeve, is an email address for her manager. I’d doubt he got many emails in the 80s.

I wasn’t sure with this album whether it would have a predominantly folk sound to it (which I often struggle with), but I was pleased to find that it has a mixture of sounds. Tanita’s vocals really are warm and soulful and carry the songs along perfectly, a bit like a more lively early-Dido.

A unexpected hit.

Rated 4 stars - You're missing a treat!
  • POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 1988 UK CHART POSITION: #3
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Barnardo’s charity store.

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