Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 1986 debut album Su by actress and comedian Su Pollard, but would listening to this make you want to sue? Read on…
This 12 track LP bursts opens with her hit and second single Starting Together, complete with bell chime and simple bass and string sequence. The single gave her a huge #2 hit in the UK in 1986 and was the theme from a hit TV documentary show that earned 14 million viewers a week as real-life couple ‘started together’ and married. Su’s vocals are confident and rich here, over a simple 80’s pop-rock track. The backing vocals really add warmth to the song, and the electric guitar solos give the song a rocky edge as the chimes (for a wedding, but ultimately sounding Christmassey) chime us to the end of the song. The video is unforgiving.
Up next is Perhaps Love, a cover of a John Denver song, which gently opens with acoustic guitar and string section – which sits it fairly well alongside his music. In this version, Su sings perfectly as the gentle song builds up around her. This song is really quite a nice track, and there’s an element of Disney Princess ballad song.
You’ve Never Done It Like That follows, and this bursts open with some funky guitar, brass, and electric piano. This is a big, loud, bouncy track, and this fits Su’s playful and wide ranging vocal delivery perfectly nails this song, and gives a real blast of energy to this Neil Sedaka-penned song, previously a low-charting single by Captain and Tennille in 1978.
This is followed by Once You Lose Your Heart, which is much more downbeat, with horn section and sad woodwind instrument leading us into a teary orchestral ballad. Once again Su takes the vocals with great ease. These near-theatrical songs really suit her voice. As the piano and strings grow, she matches it, showing off her vocal capacity, all the way to the big long note at the end. This was a song by Noel Gay, but enjoy this translated version!
Piano and strings follow her into next song Falling For You. This is a mid-tempo heartfelt pop song about, yes, you guessed it – falling in love. There are momentary echoes of Cherish by Kool and The Gang… But they are just fleeting.
A wave of synths lead us into the final track from Side One – Lies (La La La Lies). This up-beat pulsating track gives Su a racing synth pop track that is a great example of mid-80s pop, and comes complete with Obligatory 80s Saxophone who gets quite a big solo in the mid section before Su returns for the final push. The result is quite a nice little pop song that you might expect to find from the likes of Taylor Dayne, Tiffany or Debbie Gibson.
Side Two opens with Su’s cover of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, originally by The Righteous Brothers. It has a bit of an uncertain start, with Su having to take some pretty low range vocals but then she makes up for it in the chorus. The mid section is full of whooping backing singers and chugging guitar as Su builds up to the big finale. The definitive version is undoubtedly the Righteous Brothers’ but this is actually quite good – sadly, when released as her third single, it failed to chart.
Electric piano ushers in the slightly oddly named Wives Will Always Be The Last To Know. This is a mid-tempo track, again with heartfelt lyrics and a seemingly easy ride for Su. The song gives her the space to show off her delicate vocals in this sad song about betrayal and deceit. This was the fourth single from the album, but it failed to chart.
This is followed by Alright, Ok, You Win is by contrast a fast, fun, call and response track that has been recorded by many other artists including Peggy Lee. There’s a nice bass here, and joined by the handclaps, synth brass, and some great backing vocalists. The song speeds up as it heads for the end, and really gives the album a nice lift.
Band Of Gold follows, and this time there’s dramatic synths, before they give way to some more 80s Obligatory Saxophone for this cover of Freda Payne’s 1970 hit. Su’s version is pretty loyal to the original but treads the path well.
Penultimate track Never Thought I’d Be Losing You follows, and this resumes the more theatrical, dramatic sound, whilst washed in more saxophone and occasional castanets, as Su sings another lovesick ballad.
The album closes with Come To Me (I Am Woman) which stood as her debut single from 1985. This is a cover of ABBA star Frida’s album track from only just the year before. Sadly, Su’s version stalled at #71 in the UK chart, but thankfully this didn’t deter her from continuing her career for a bit longer. If anything, Su’s version is a little better.
Over all, I’m pleasantly surprised by this album. Su’s career as a long-established comic actress has diverted attention away her ability to actually sing well, and she hits her notes perfectly. Her quirky humour and sense of style also jars with her musical ability – for example, the album artwork shows her in black and yellow, with a big gauze red bow on her head and a yellow unicorn horn – she looks like a Wuzzle – the one which crossed a bee with a unicorn.
Vocally, Su delivers this album perfectly. Musically, the heavy reliance on ballads makes it a little bit of a plodder, but the faster upbeat numbers really do shine. The use of many cover versions perhaps gave negative signals as to her creative originality, and perhaps looked like a comedy remake, but she certainly has the vocal ability here.
Where is Su Pollard now?
The album scraped in to the Top 100, and her next three singles failed to chart. Su failed to repeat the success she’d seen with Starting Together, but retained her comedy career.
She continued to star in Hi-De-Hi as hapless maid Peggy, and after this finished in 1988, and after winning Rear Of The Year Award in 1988, she took the role of Ivy in You Rang, M’Lord from 1988 until 1993. From 1995-1997 she played Ethel in Oh, Doctor Beeching!
Oddly, she ended up singing Walking On Sunshine in seaside resort Cleethorpes on British faith Sunday tea-time series Songs Of Praise.
She made a one final attempt to return to the music charts, with single My Miracle in 1990, but sadly it failed to chart.
She has since taken numerous West End theatre, pantomime, and TV roles, including a memorable and genius appearance in 2001 on BBC comedy series Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! alongside Kathy Burke.
As for the couple from The Marriage TV series? Well, as of 2009, they were still together and celebrating their silver wedding anniversary.
- POP RESCUE 2016 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1986 UK CHART PEAK: #86
- POP RESCUE COST: £4.22 from a Discogs seller.