POP RESCUE: ‘Body Talk’ by Imagination (Vinyl, 1981)


Today’s POP RESCUE from obscurity, is the 1981 debut album Body Talk from trio Imagination.

Imagination - Body Talk (1981) albumI have to say, that when I saw this in a charity store, I audibly laughed in the shop, and couldn’t put this down. The front and back of the sleeve is remarkable. Prior to this review, I’ve never heard of them, nor ever knowingly heard any of their music…. so let’s get stuck in!

The album opens with the album title track, and debut single Body Talk which has a wonderfully slow, meandering bass line, that’s joined by handclaps and piano. Leee John‘s vocals are high pitched, and sit somewhere between The Bee Gees and the higher George Michael register. This is a great song though – the beats and a little guitar riff are a constant that effortlessly lead you through.

This is followed by So Good, So Right, which opens with a synth and pumping beat that get a great long run until the vocals kick in. I imagine that this may have been sampled many times. A beat eventually arrives, as do the handclaps, then piano and still the vocals hold back. It’s almost like we’re getting an entire free backing track and a song in one. This is 1981, and the reign of disco is still in full swing, so this track would have no doubt delighted. Leee eventually turns up, and is joined by the deeper tones of Ashley Ingram on backing vocals. Their contrasting tones work perfectly. Again, this song is really good.

Final track on Side One is Burnin’ Up. Synths and a brooding beat soon lead us into some house piano and beats, before switching over to a wonderful disco section with ‘I’m burnin’ up‘ vocals repeated over. Aside from these vocals, there’s pretty much no others, with the majority of the song given over to the beat and some extravagant house piano. This whole track feels like an early dance remix, and it’s unsurprising that sites like YouTube feature several contemporary remixes of it. This track was released as the groups 7th single, mid-way through their second album’s release schedule, although it appears that it was only released in the USA.

Side Two opens with Tell Me Do You Want My Love. This is a more gentle track, and Leee’s vocals take a softer approach to the lyrics, and this returns them to sounding like they’re sitting between The Bee Gees and George Michael. Again, there’s plenty of instrumental parts on this song, perhaps giving others plenty of sample fodder 15 years or so down the line.

This is followed by Flashback, and this is a very familiar track. Again it opens with some wonderful disco beats and early 80s synths. This is very catchy, and it’s impossible to not tap your toes or want to clap along. Leee’s vocals have plenty of space to show off – and he gets a few nice high notes.

Up next is penultimate track I’ll Always Love You (But Don’t Look Back). Piano opens this ballad, and aside from that and some strings, it’s down to Leee, who effortlessly delivers the love-struck lyrics. This is a nice, warm song, and one that stylistically gives a complete contrast to everything we’ve heard so far on this album.

The album closes with second single, In And Of Love. The pace increases and we’re safely back into piano, beats, and a more mellow disco-fuelled pace. There’s also a vibes solo, which feels perfectly placed.

Over all, this is a great album. It’s short, at just 7 tracks, but those tracks feel like they are right there on the cusp of disco, dance, and pop. Producers and co-writers Steve Jolley and Tony Swain are present throughout, and this undoubtedly helps this album sound like one big consistent piece of work.

 

Where are Imagination now?

Imagination went on to release a further six studio albums, and a few ‘best of’ albums. Their biggest hit Just An Illusion reached #2 in the UK in 1982, and was taken from the album immediately following this one.

Their final single was Call On Me in 1991, which failed to chart. The group broke up in 1992.

John Leee, who had earned an acting role in a Doctor Who story, returned to acting and has more recently returned to singing appearing on TV show Reborn In The USA, and continuing to perform live as recently as 2014.

Ashley Ingram has remained in the music industry – and found success as a co-writer for Des’ree. It is unclear what became of drummer Errol Kennedy.

POP RESCUE RATING:

  • POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 5 / 5
  • 1981 UK CHART POSITION: #20, certified Gold.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from an RSPCA charity store.

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