Today’s POP RESCUE from obscurity is the second solo album Shine by occasional ABBA vocalist, Frida, but would this album have any sparkle? Read on…
This 10 track LP bursts opens with the title track and lead single Shine. The song is packed full of synths, hard 80’s electronic beats, and a scattering of growling guitars. Frida’s vocals are strong here, and gives what I feel is a warm nod towards her ABBA history. It really is a catchy song, and a brilliantly belting stand out song, but sadly, the track flopped at #82 on the UK chart in 1984 – a great shame given Frida’s pop pedigree and the fresh sounds of this song. I think she was simply ahead of her time, and give her another 4 years, and this song would probably have been a huge hit.
One Little Lie follows this, the first of two songs co-written by Simon Climie (of Climie Fisher) and the first of three songs to be co-written by Kirsty MacColl (both take backing vocals throughout the album). The song starts with a ton of drums before a chugging bass joins in. This song is at its catchiest in the chorus, but overall it’s another great electro pop track. Synths and strings grow in the background as Frida effortlessly delivers the vocals.
Up next is The Face, another Kirsty MacColl co-write. This song has some wonderful vocal harmonies with breathy backing vocals (from Kirsty). The melody is really warm too in this slower song, and at times I wonder if this could have been a Bond Theme. It’s yet another catchy track.
Single Twist In The Dark follows, and … This single doesn’t appear to have been released in the UK. This song gives Frida plenty of space to show off her vocal range and capacity, but whilst its simple beats and pop-rock guitars plod along, the vocals and lyrics are a little more abstract.
Side one closes with Slowly – the final Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus collaboration to be recorded by an ABBA vocalist. You’d expect to find plenty of ABBA feeling in this song – and after a gentle start, as soon as Frida begins singing it feels like it belongs amongst ABBA’s discography. Musically it’s less like an ABBA song and more like a Natalie Imbruglia song!
Side Two opens with Heart Of The Country, with a slightly odd guitar intro that sounds a bit Gaelic and Japanese. This is repeated a few times but soon gives way to the chorus. This song sounds musically and vocally like one of Belinda Carlisle’s 80’s pop-rock tracks, with plenty of growling guitar and drums. This was released as a single, but again it doesn’t appear to have been released in the UK.
This is followed by Come To Me (I Am Woman). This is a ballad, starting with soft breathy ‘oohs’. It’s pretty generic on the 80’s ballad template, and Frida’s vocals take this song down with great ease. Simon Climie gets a synth solo in the middle before Frida returns for the final push. This was another single that didn’t see release in the UK. However, it was picked up in 1986 by comedian Su Pollard who included it on her debut album and released it as a single, reaching #71 in the UK.
Next up is Chemistry Tonight. This is a fun little up-beat, bouncy pop song. I could easily imagine Kylie Minogue tackling this song. Kirsty and Simon are back on the co-writer duties here alongside Peter Glennister. There’s lots of acoustic guitars here, and their gentle strumming and pace really make this a warm, catchy song alongside Frida’s vocals and the vocal harmonies. A great little song.
Don’t Do It follows, and is Frida’s sole writing credit here. It opens with a simple bass drum and hi-hat as guitars gently strum a twangy intro. This is a breathy ballad, and as the bass joins in alongside a snare. It’s a nice song, even if besides the song’s title and ‘I’m falling, falling, falling‘ it struggles a little to find other lyrics.
The album closes with Comfort Me. It opens with Frida counting in the song, before she sings alongside a soft keyboard. Soon, a sweeping synth joins in, helping to build the song further. This is a sad little spacey dreamy ballad, and Frida’s voice shines here throughout. The chorus really shows off her range, as the song takes an almost creepy turn.
Over all, I’m glad that Steve Lillywhite got his hands on this album rather than Phil Collins (who produced her previous album). The album successfully grabs what were fresh pop sounds in 1984, and using the brilliance of Simon, Kirsty, Peter and Frida, delivers a wonderful album, even though Heart Of The Country sits a little uneasy amongst the other tracks, the rest make up for it.
The album’s artwork is great too – the mock fighter pose by Frida on the cover, the neon pinks, greens and yellows of her clothes and the inner sleeve, all promise something fresh, exciting, and bright… and it delivers that, and shines bright. It’s just a shame that it was perhaps a few years ahead of its time.
- POP RESCUE 2016 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1984 UK CHART PEAK: #67
- POP RESCUE COST: £5.49 from a Discogs seller.