Review: “The Promise” by T’Pau (CD, 1991)

Today’s POP RESCUE from a potentially loveless future, is the 1991 third album The Promise by the band T’Pau. Is this album full of Promise, or

T'Pau - The Promise (1991) album
T’Pau’s 1991 album ‘The Promise’

I really enjoyed their debut album Bridge Of Spies from 1987, and so this 12 track album was in my hand like a flash.. but can it keep a promise? Let’s find out…

The album opens with ‘na na na-na hey‘ chants from Carol as Soul Destruction starts. This song served (after a remix) as the third single from the album. Carol’s rich vocals take lead, whilst a great bass line, synth and chugging guitars take the back seat. It’s a grower, with those ‘na na’s helping to make the song catchy. Sadly the song failed to chart in the UK.

Lead single Whenever You Need Me follows this, and again Carol’s vocals stand out strong here. The chorus is really powerful, complete with smashing drums and guitar and for a moment it feels close to their big hit China In Your Hand, but the verses feel quite light be contrast. The single reached #16 in the UK charts, and

Walk On Air is up next and it’s a slower song, and feels undeniably 80s. Sadly, this song isn’t quite as strong or catchy as the previous two, and just kind of chugs along. This would no doubt have contributed to it stalling at #62 in the UK charts.

This is followed by Made Of Money, which opens with some great guitars and a chugging bass line (which reminded me a little Alannah MylesBlack Velvet). Carol throws in some roaring rock vocals on top, and the song feels far stronger than the previous track, and perhaps should have made it as a single instead. Saxophone gets a nice little solo mid-way courtesy of Gary Barnacle.

Some Police-esque sounding guitars signal the start of Hold On To Love. This is a mid-tempo track that plods along. Carol’s vocals make light work of the range here, and she’s given plenty of space to roam. It’s quite a nice song, and I’d be unsurprised if it doesn’t get covered (if it hasn’t already been).

Downbeat drums and piano signal the start of sixth track Strange Place. This song feels like it’s brooding, but it fails to really head anywhere. There’s a few nice instrumental sections for guitar and vocals from the middle onwards, but it’s not particularly a memorable song.

In what is almost some kind of synth-y electro track, One Direction has quite a catchy synth riff to it. Carol’s vocals are softer and drifting here, although at one point she nearly raps about ‘the top of the Bronx‘ at about 2m 30s. I wonder if One Direction will cover this? Probably not, but it’d probably be a smash hit (and a tidy earner).

Only A Heartbeat follows, with some synth stabs and a great low bass line and bass drum. This song feels like more a return to the style we remember T’Pau better for. There’s a great bit of politics in the lyrics, backed with a military-styled set of drums, which are added to by some handclaps. The song got me tapping my feet and wanting to join Carol in singing when it burst into a full on rock song at about 3mins in. This would have been my vote as a UK single replacement for Walk On Air, but it was to be the fourth single – released only in the US and Japan.

Title track The Promise is up next, with some roaring guitars and rock drums. Again, this feels ‘more’ T’Pau, and by the time you hit the chorus it feels very catchy, and perhaps a little bit like Belinda Carlisle.

A Place In My Heart follows this, which brings back those chugging guitars for what again feels like classic T’Pau and a good strong sing-along 80s song, with plenty of backing vocal ‘oohs’, growling guitars, hard stadium-style beats. This is a pretty good song.

Penultimate track Man And Woman sees the return of Gary on saxophone. This is slower, lighter track, with Carol singing over some keyboards, before the song gets into the chorus – where the guitars and beats return in full force. At times, the lyrics feel a bit weak, and over all, this isn’t a particularly memorable song.

Electric piano joins Carol for final track Purity. This slow self-penned ballad allows her to showcase her rich, warm, vocals, whilst singing about her childhood. It’s quite a nice song to end an album with. The last 30 seconds turn into a very rich near-orchestral ending.

T’Pau’s lead single ‘Whenever You Need Me’

Where are T’Pau now?

T’Pau disbanded shortly after the release of the fourth single.

It wouldn’t be until 1998 until the group would return with Red – a new studio album.

Carol Decker has continued to record and perform ‘as’ T’Pau, not just at 80’s-themed nostalgia concerts alongside those artists with whom T’Pau once battled for chart-places with, but she reformed T’Pau with original member Ronnie Rogers to embark on a 28-date UK tour marking 25 years of the band in 2013. This led to the production of their fifth studio album Pleasure & Pain in 2015, which again was backed by a tour.

To date, the groups last UK charting single was a re-release of their 1988 single Valentine, in 1993.


Over all, there are no China In Your Hands to be found here, and playing this album through in order feels like the band at this point were trying out a few new sounds. A number of the tracks feel very 80s, despite the album being released in 1991, but it suffers from having a fair number of strong (non-single) tracks, and some weaker ‘filler’ ones. I’d have chopped a couple of songs out.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1991 UK CHART POSITION: #10, certified Silver.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from an Oxfam shop.

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