Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1996 second album Spirit by British actor and singer, Sean Maguire. But was this album lacking spirit, or was it all just a bit of a drunken slur? Read on…
This 12 track album opens with the light piano and park foley of third single Good Day, The song throws in guitars before a pulsating beat launches the song proper. Musically, it’s quite a funky, catchy, song, even if the lyrics are a little weak. Sean does good with the chorus though. This track gave him a #12 UK hit, and remains his biggest hit.
This is followed by oodles of house piano of Treat Me, with Sean getting his second co-writer credit so far. Musically, the introduction reminded me straight away of Bobby Brown‘s hit Two Can Play That Game. However, once that introduction is away, the song ends up somewhat more mellow, but just as catchy. Lyrically, this song feels like Sean is trying to shake off his childish Grange Hill actor’s persona. Sadly this song didn’t make it as a single.
Up next is a cover of You To Me Are Everything, with the original having been released in 1976 by The Real Thing. It’s an odd choice for him, even if the song does seem pretty sympathetic to the original. However, the song had been covered by Sonia just four years earlier in 1991, charting 3 places higher at #13. Sean’s version, the album’s second single, gave him a #16 UK hit single. I suspect that all three versions could be mashed up into one big megamix. It’s a pretty simple walk through this classic song.
If You Really Care is up next. This is a slick, smooth, track, laden with percussive beats and bass guitar. Sean’s vocals are rich here, and suited to this slower number. It’s quite a nice little song, and I could easily imagine Blue covering this track.
Up next is I’ll Be Good For You which has a wonderfully infectious little pseudo-brass musical motif throughout it. The song gives Sean plenty of space to show off his vocal range, although he’s supported by a great set of backing singers. The song is catchy, and bounces along perfectly with the help of the beat and the heavy use of dance-styled stabbing piano chords. Again, this should have been a single.
If I Surrender is up next, opening like a Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey number – delicate piano, a whimpering ‘ooh‘, and finger clicks. This is a really slow number, and sadly Sean’s vocals sound weaker here, and the song is musically boring in a paint-by-numbers-ballad way.
This is followed by lead single Now I’ve Found You. Whilst this song bounces along perfectly, with lots of house pianos, a pumping beat, it sadly stalled at #22. There’s certainly some stronger songs on this album, and they would have fared better than this. Sean’s vocals are not consistently strong through this song’s verses.
Your Love opens with a gentle swish of bells before a gentle plodding beat arrives for this RnB number. At times I can almost hear Eternal singing this. It even comes with a harmonica section. The song is quite a nice number, but not as strong as some of the other tracks here.
Fourth and final single Don’t Pull Your Love is up next, and this gave him a #14 UK single. This is another cover, this time of the 1971 Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds single. Again, a weird cover version choice, and one that Sean seems to struggle with vocally – sounding like a mediocre karaoke attempt.
This is followed by Sweet Town (Mister Cab Driver), a song that opens with sirens in a far-off street, before a vintage sounding beat takes the lead. This is an original song, one of the ones co-written by Sean. This song is musically loaded with Motown nods and a near miss with the Uptown Girl melody lawyers in the chorus. It’s a simple song, but works really well, oozing the illusion of being a ‘cover version’.
Penultimate song Where Do Broken Hearts Go is another schmaltzy ballad – with strings, piano, and gentle percussive beats. Thankfully it is not a cover of the huge Whitney Houston song. Musically it’s not a million miles away, but the lyrics and vocals are far from it. Not in a bad way, it’s actually an okay song. The strings and backing vocalists help to add warmth and lift Sean’s heartfelt vocals.
The tempo rockets for closing track Make It Right. This song has a much more bouncy, pop feel to it – reminiscent of the offerings of fellow pop actors Ant and Dec (aka PJ & Duncan). As with a number of mid-90s pop songs, there’s a mystery rapper in the middle section. His style sits oddly, but this song is so cheery that it doesn’t really matter.
Where is Sean Maguire now?
Sean saw greater commercial success with this album than his debut, but ultimately he was unable to place it in the UK top 40 album chart, despite juggling the recording of this album with his BBC TV acting role as Marty Dangerfield in series Dangerfield. He was replaced by television presenter Tim Vincent.
His most recent charting single was Today’s The Day in 1997, complete with a slightly awkward Top Of The Pops performance that no doubt questioned his musical talent.
After his Greatest Hits was released and failed to chart in the UK in 1998, he returned to acting in a run of TV and films.
In 2008, Sean had a lead role in the parody film Meet The Spartans, which whilst it was panned by critics, it reached #1 in the US box office. He also had a starring role in comedy series Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire.
He currently has a recurring role as Robin Hood in US fairy-tale series Once Upon A Time, and spends most of his time living in the US.
POP RESCUE RATING
Over all, this album is all over the place. Despite his good looks, and even the flash of his abs and nipple on the cover, it wasn’t enough to give him a hit album, and only enough to give him moderate success in the singles chart. Whilst there’s some really catchy songs here, it seems that at least two potential singles were overlooked for far weaker songs.
Trim a couple of songs out (Where Do Broken Hearts Go, and If I Surrender) and release the right singles (Treat Me, and I’ll Be Good For You) then he might have had a hit album on his hands.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1996 UK CHART PEAK: #43
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.59 from an eBay seller.