Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain is the 2001 re-issued debut album ‘Right Now‘ by British trio Atomic Kitten. Will it be cute and fluffy, or will you want to throw it into an Eternal Flame? Read on…
The album opens with the title track Right Now, and it bounces along like a piece of perfect disco pop. When coupled with the video it really works well, but it’s strong and catchy enough to hold it’s own. Each of the ladies get their turns on the mic, and you can spot the difference too. It’s a full-on pop belter, and the perfect start to an album. It’s almost as if it’s an old Chic song that you’ve yet to find, but then the song is one of many written by Andy McCluskey and Stuart Kershaw of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD), and so they know exactly what they’re doing. The song gave the original trio, with Kerry Katona (before Jenny Frost, whose vocals feature here in this re-recorded edtion, and came from the group Precious) a #10 debut hit in December 1999.
Next up is Follow Me, the album’s fourth single, and this track is a mid-tempo ballad. It’s highly reminiscent of something you’d find on an S Club 7 album. It’s a gentle track and gives the ladies (this is a Katona, not Frost track) plenty of space to show off their vocal range and harmonies. It’s nice enough, but kind of rightly stalled at #20 in the UK charts.
The group’s huge 5th hit, Whole Again is up next. This version carries Jenny Frost’s vocals, but was released just after Kerry left on maternity leave. This song isn’t musically that dissimilar to Follow Me, but it definitely has the power and edge to it. I’m not sure it quite deserved its 4 weeks as the UK’s #1, but perhaps it being Valentine’s Day helped it along.
Eternal Flame, originally a hit from The Bangles, is up next. Again, Atomic Kitten struck #1, this being the album’s 6th single. It really isn’t far from the original musically or vocally, but has a few RnB nods with some ‘call my name, call my name’ additions. It’s cover-by-numbers, but it worked perfectly.
Up next is Tomorrow & Tonight, which feels like a All Saints reject. It’s a simple song though, which therefore allows the vocals to shine again – harmonies, vocal range, and vocal effects, although the lyrics are fairly weak. Definitely an album track, and I’ll have probably forgotten it by the time this album ends.
Some synth guitars and a funky beat opens Get Real, and it’s another Kerry track. It contains lyrics that would bring tears to a chiropractor – “Oh baby let your backbone slip, let it slide right down put it on your hip”. The Kittens clearly have troubled anatomical knowledge. Still, it’s a better filler track than Tomorrow & Tonight, so it passes with ease, and that weird lyrics part actually turns out to be fairly catchy.
Disco is back for Turn Me On, and I’m reminded of some kind of Spiller/Steps pastiche. There’s a smorgasbord of disco motifs here – the glockenspiel, the funky bass, and disco strings, all punctuated by that S Club 7 ‘Don’t Stop Movin‘ style. This really should have been a single instead of the dreary Follow Me or the failed You Are single. I can imagine that the video would have been spectacular.
Hippy follows this – it’s a creeping, plodding song and there’s not much really going on apart from a set of descending chords, a slow beat, and orchestral stabs. This is another Kerry track, but it falls very short of her previous ones.
Seventh single You Are is up next, and this time there’s some guitars and synths on top of a steady beat. It failed to gain the same attention as earlier singles (perhaps because the fans had already bought the album based on the previous 6 singles!), and it flopped at a peak of #90 on the UK charts. Thankfully, the group moved on to new material. Still, there’s some nice warm sounds and some good vocal moments.
Next is Cradle, which is technically the album’s 8th and final single, but it didn’t see chart action until 2005 when it received a remix and struck #10 in the UK charts while raising money for World Vision. It’s quite a lush track, and feels like it has had a much stronger composition and production level. I can see why it was being used as a fundraiser, and why it became successful.
Similarly, Bye Now is another track that has a much more lush and mature sound to it. This works perfectly with the Kittens’ vocals, as it gives them some really powerful and emotive vocal performances to give. I could imagine that this would have been a strong single too, but sadly it didn’t make the dance-pop grade. Perfection!
The main part of the album ends on Strangers that uses an unusual guitar intro, strings, and wonderfully warm backing vocals. This makes the third consecutive richly layered track on the album and it really does sound beautiful. The vocals soar here, as the strings rush around them, resulting in a wonderfully warm, but almost sad song. Perfection again!
Then there’s a silence for a minute as Strangers leads us through the mists of time to a section of the album titled as ‘Back Then’.
Whilst former member Kerry Katona is not specifically credited on these tracks (it just notes ‘Vocals: Atomic Kitten’), she is here, and does get a cheeky thank you from Lil and her replacement Jenny. These tracks are from her time, and it’s nice to see the connection made between them and the ‘Right Now’ of Atomic Kitten.
First up is See Ya, perhaps now ironically named. This was the group’s second single to chart in the UK, and gave them a #6 hit in the spring of 2000. This track sounds like a song that had its sights set firmly on making a dent in B*Witched’s success – its beats, its ‘woah’ and ‘yeah yeah yeah’ backing vocals, harmonies, and faster pace, gives it that bubblegum pop sound. Definitely a weaker track in comparison to Right Now, but it’s light and inoffensive.
The final track is I Want Your Love which was the original trio’s third single, giving them their third top ten hit, by reaching #10. This picks up on the tempo found in Right Now and adds some. It also heavily uses the unmistakeable theme to The Big Country (you’ll recognise it, when you hear it) and the end result is a catchy, fast, dance pop track, and a nice ending to the album.
Over all, Right Now feels as much as a beginning as it does an end, and it encapsulates the changing line-up of the group perfectly, and respectfully nods to it too.
Pop Rescue Review Rating:
- POP RESCUE 2020 REVIEW RATING: 4 / 5
- 2001 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #1, certified 2x Platinum.
- POP RESCUE 2020 COST: £1.49 from a British Heart Foundation store.