REVIEW: ‘Hold Me In Your Arms’ by Rick Astley (CD, 1988)


Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1988 second album from Rick Astley, titled Hold Me In Your Arms.

This is undoubtedly a PWL record, with three of the tracks having been penned by the hit-making team, with Rick picking up solo writing credits for 6 of the 10 tracks.

Ian Curnow and Phil Harding join Rick on production – giving the duo yet another hit for their production hall of fame.

The album opens with lead single, and the first of the Rick solo compositions, She Wants To Dance With Me, which musically reminds me a lot of Whitney Houston‘s hit single I Wanna Dance With Somebody from the previous year. Vocally, Rick is on fine form, and he delivers this catchy song seemingly with great ease. This lead single took him to #6 in the UK singles chart.

This is followed by second single Take Me To Your Heart, which from its first few notes is undoubtedly from the Stock/Aitken/Waterman stable. The song is pure pop, and wonderfully catchy.  Again, Rick makes light work of the vocals, and S/A/W’s lyrics sit perfectly over this bouncy track. This song reached #8 in the UK.

I Don’t Want To Lose Her, another S/A/W track is soon bounding in, and again it’s unashamedly pop. This track does sound fairly similar to the previous song, and although it sounds like it could have easily have the strength to have been a single (and I was sure it had been until I checked), perhaps that similarity meant it wasn’t to be.

Fourth track is fourth single Giving Up On Love, and it’s another solo composition from Rick. Whilst there’s a nod to the kind of pop sounds heard in the previous two songs, this song gives more space to Rick’s vocals and a great bass line. The song plays out effortlessly. There’s a nice acoustic guitar section from 2m 13s, and this adds a nice warm instrumental break in the middle of the track. I like this track, but it only the US and Canada saw this single – where it stalled at #38 and #45 respectively.

Up next is a cover of Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, which was originally a hit in 1966 for The Temptations. Rick’s version is fairly loyal to the original – with a nice gentle pace and Rick having plenty of time and space to flex his voice. Whilst this was released as the fifth and final single from the album, it was seemingly only released in North America – where it scraped in to the top 90. Rick’s USA career success would have to wait a bit longer…

This is followed by Till Then (Time Stands Still), which returns us to that familiar S/A/W sound. This song sounds like it would have been perfectly at home on Jason Donovan‘s 1989 debut album Ten Good Reasons. Rick’s vocals sound perfectly at home here in this pop-fest, as much as they do with the slower tracks. The chorus is really quite catchy, and I couldn’t stop tapping my feet.

Dial My Number follows this and begins the run of Rick’s solo compositions that lead to the end of the album. This is a slower track, giving Rick to showcase his rich vocal range alongside some nice complimentary backing vocals.

Up next is I’ll Never Let You Down, another mid-tempo track. There’s some really nice little guitar riffs in this song, as well as some great backing vocals. Both perfectly compliment Rick’s vocals, which really stand strong here. The song is simply really nice.

Penultimate track I Don’t Want To Be Your Lover opens with some dramatic beats, before leading into the first verse. This is a great little track with a really nice melody, and there’s lots of 80s synths tucked in. The song was used as a B-side to the Hold Me In Your Arms single, which is a shame, as I reckon it could have been a great single in its own right.

The album closes with the title track, and third single Hold Me In Your Arms. This has echoes of the 1960s, and maybe influenced by the sounds of groups like The Temptations who he covered for this album. Once again, Rick’s vocals are flawless, strong, and he gets plenty of time and space to stretch them throughout this slow song. This is pure slow-dance territory – you know the kind – just before the lights come up on the dance floor.

Over all, this is a really strong album, and like his debut, showcases not just his vocals, but also his maturity in songwriting, and his musical ability (Rick has ‘keyboards and drums’ credits on a few songs). Rick’s own confidence seems to be shining through, and it’s perhaps one that would eventually see him shift away from pure pop and away from PWL.

This album preceded that of Jason Donovan‘s debut – Ten Good Reasons, and Sonia‘s debut Everybody Knows, but whilst listening to it, there are clearly a lot of musical echoes that the PWL team developed further for their future hit albums.

Where is Rick Astley now?

Following this album and the slow decline in his chart placings, Rick released his third album Free, which was led with hit single Cry For Help. Sadly, the singles that followed were not as successful.

His most recently charting UK single was Lights Out in 2010, which stalled at #97 in the singles charts, which is a shame as it’s perfectly Rick Astley, and really quite catchy.

Whilst embracing the shadow of his debut hit Never Gonna Give You Up, and the Rickroll internet meme in 2007 that sparked an international revival of his career, Rick has continued to perform internationally, often as part of the 80s nostalgia tours alongside the likes of Debbie Gibson and T’Pau.

A remastered version of this album was released in 2010, including a range of mixes.

POP RESCUE RATING

  • POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 1988 UK CHART POSITION: #8, certified Platinum
  • POP RESCUE COST: £2.69 from an eBay seller.

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