Today’s Pop Rescue review is the 1991 second album Inside Out by British pop singer and songwriter, Clive Griffin.
The open opens with second single I’ll Be Waiting featuring Sarah Brown. This song really reminds very much of The Best Things In Life Are Free by Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson (give it a play and swap out the vocals). Both Clive and Sarah’s vocals work well together and this is a great little soulful pop song. Towards the end it even starts to sound like Kylie Minogue’s Where Is The Feeling? Sadly, it stalled at #56 in the UK, ending his run of this album’s singles, but gave him a #20 hit in Italy (his highest chart placing).
Next up is Take A Little Time, which is a lovely slick mid-tempo track. His vocals are kind of between Heather Small and Sting. The little brass signatures really help this track along, but again it’s a really nice little song.
Lead single Reach For The Top follows this, and it’s a nice uptempo track with some nice orchestral swirls and piano, and bass guitar sections that give a nod to disco tracks. The chorus introduces some perfectly placed backing singers, helping to lift that section up. Sadly, whilst this song tried to reach the top, it actually almost reached the bottom – flopping at #80 in the UK, which is a shame as I think that this album (so far) would do well now.
In a contrast of sounds, Heaven Can Wait opens with a gargling synth, backed with breathy soundscapes as a beat gently eases in. Clive’s vocals sit here perfectly balanced with the bass guitar and warmth of those synths. A flute sound flutters in, and for a moment I’m reminded of George Michael and Sade. This track is completely chilled out, and whilst it could never have been a potential single, it fits her.
I Wanna Feel Love closes side one, and the vocals here make me think of early Rick Astley tracks. Again, some well placed brass, a funky bass, and warm backing vocals continue to make this track yet another really nice and warm song.
Side Two opens with the synths and saxophone of Make Me Believe, although my vinyl had some serious pops and jumps at the start. Clive’s vocals naturally drop in right when you’d expect them. This song, like all those before, is a nice soulful, gentle and warm sounding track. The saxophone weaves its way throughout the song, as if it’s delivering the magic that Clive is singing about.
Up next is Love Is A River, and this is ushered in with harp, strings and saxophone, and lots of heartfelt ‘woah’ vocals. This track really lets Clive show off his vocals, letting him hold some pretty big notes. I could easily imagine Eternal covering this song.
Some shuffling 90s drums and slightly sad saxophone bring in Its Your Life. At times, this sounds like it belongs on a Take That or Kenny Thomas album. The backing vocalists, the flute, and that bassist, turn this into yet another really nicely crafted soulful tune.
Don’t Make Me Cry follows this, starting with a kind of space-y sound, before Clive sings over some sad simple synth notes. Again, he shows off his vocal ability well, on what is essentially a sad ballad. The song breaks into a kind of African vocal harmony song towards the end, fading its goodnight vocals towards the final track.
The album closes with some token 90s beats and cheap brass keyboard sounds that lead us into I Am. These remind me a little of Dannii Minogue’s Success track. However, Clive’s vocals soon burst in to lead it to safety. There’s a rebellious streak in the music that’s also present in the vocals ‘I am what I am and there’s nothing you can do to change it’. Sadly my vinyl is so scratched in this final track that I don’t hear a compete verse without jumping, but it’s a nice up-beat ending to this album.
Where is Clive Griffin now?
After this album’s sad commercial failure in the UK, Clive departed from his record label. He joined Eric Clapton on tour and then signed a new deal and released his third album, the eponymous Clive Griffin in 1993. This time, his songwriting was joined by that of pop starmaker Diane Warren. However, despite this pop royalty, the UK charts remained elusive.
Also in 1993, Clive recorded a cover of When I Fall In Love with Celine Dion which ended up on the soundtrack for hit Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film Sleepless In Seattle.
More recently, Clive turned up as a backing singer on Kylie Minogue’s Your Disco Needs You.
When I picked this LP up, I had no idea who Clive Griffin was. I’d never heard of him or his music before, and I had no idea even what genre he’d turn out to be. I’ve often picked up albums based on gut feeling, and once again I was far from disappointed.
This album is smooth, slick, calm. Clive’s soulful vocals are warm and work these self-penned tracks perfectly. There are definitely echoes of George Michael’s 1995 hit album Older in here, and plenty of Rick Astley moments, hints of Kenny Thomas, and also a few M People moments.
I’m sad that this album never charted in the UK, and really feel that you should give it a listen. I think that this album could easily fare well now, as it feels pretty timeless.
- Pop Rescue 2017 rating: 4 / 5
- 1991 UK album chart peak position: Did not chart.
- Pop Rescue cost: 50p from a Salvation Army store.