Review: “Goodbye To The Island” by Bonnie Tyler (Vinyl, 1981)

Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is the 1981 fourth album Goodbye To The Island by Welsh pop-rock singer, Bonnie Tyler. Is this album like the perfect trip, or more of a holiday from Hell? Read on…

Bonnie Tyler - Goodbye To The Island (1981) album cover
Bonnie Tyler – Goodbye To The Island (1981) album

Side One of this ten track LP opens with I’m Just A Woman, which stood as the album’s 3rd single. The track is the first of five on this album to have been co-written by jazz saxophonist and jazz club owner, Ronnie Scott. It’s quite a slow and sultry track, with Bonnie’s descending melody working wonderfully. The guitars chug along with the beats obediently waiting for the chorus. Bonnie also gets to show off her more rock-styled vocals towards the end. It’s quite a long song, and could have had a slight trim, but it’s pretty fine either way. That aside, it did not chart in the UK.

Next up is We Danced On The Ceiling and this takes the tempo down to give Bonnie a more tender sounding style. There’s a meandering saxophone here (not Ronnie), and vocally Bonnie is sounding fairly Dolly Parton-esque at times. The sax works well with Bonnie’s vocals helping to lift her upwards in all the right directions.

Wild Love follows this, and despite its title, it starts with gentle acoustic sounds and softer vocals. Then the guitars wake up alongside the drums and the ‘wildness’ of it begins to emerge amongst Bonnie’s lyrics about lovemaking. It keeps this going until the end where we’re finally rewarded with some of those great big Bonnie Tyler vocals.

The Chris Rea-penned The Closer You Get is next, and unsurprisingly guitars get a good run in this track. At times it’s a little bit bluesy and a little bit country music in style, and Bonnie’s voice sounds great nestled amongst this sound. There’s another appearance from the saxophone, this time getting a wonderfully emphatically growly solo.

Side One closes with Sometimes When We Touch, a cover of Dan Hill’s 1977 hit, opens with some soft electric piano, giving Bonnie a platform to show off her warm and rich vocal power perfectly. The song builds slowly before it heads off to the end.

Side Two opens with the titular Goodbye To The Island and we’re treated to some raw vocals here over a pretty gentle track. This shows off the emotional side to Bonnie’s voice, and this is enriched further with the inclusion of the backing vocals who provide a chorus. It’s calm, mellow, and it really shows off her vocals well. This was the album’s fourth and final single, but didn’t chart in the UK.

Next is Wild Side Of Life, with a great little guitar intro. This is swiftly joined by bass and drums, and I’m once again reminded of Dolly as Bonnie makes her way to the chorus. The guitars, who by now are keen to slip the leash, do, and they gallop along perfectly after that first verse. This song really chugs along nicely. This track was previously released by Hank Thompson in 1952.

It’s on to Whiter Shade Of Pale next, a cover of the Procul Harum hit from 1967, and when I saw this on the sleeve, I was apprehensive about what we’d get. Instead, we start with what I immediately imagined was Bonnie sat next to an old piano in a bar, simply singing along. She puts in a wonderful set of vocals, and they are flawless. She’s joined by the drums as she hits the chorus, and the song continues to build throughout but gives it a different sound to the original.

Second single Sitting On The Edge Of The Ocean follows this, and this is a nice steady plodder with a lovely bass guitar. The backing vocalists once again put in a good effort, aiding Bonnie’s vocals to rise up – in what sounds an effortless way. This pace and warmth results a great little catchy song. Sadly though, like the other singles here, it failed to chart in the UK.

The album closes with lead single I Believe In Your Sweet Love, which had been released in 1979. This track is really quite a nice track – it flows effortlessly – musically and lyrically. Bonnie puts in some slightly Rod Stewart sounding raspy vocals, and she does it with ease. The backing vocals help to add warmth to the chorus right when you’d need it, alongside the country music inspired song. It’s a great ending to the album, but despite its release, it didn’t touch the UK single chart.

Bonnie Tyler’s lead single ‘I Believe In Your Sweet Love’ (1979)

Verdict

Over all, this album is has the ability to switch with minimal effort between soft tender song that showcases Bonnie’s warm and more controlled vocals, and the more rockier songs that allow her to show off her power.

This isn’t Bonnie at her most vocally powerful – Total Eclipse Of The Heart from her previous album, and Holding Out For A Hero from her future 1986 album would showcase that, but this album is a nice mix. You can hear plenty of country music tropes, as well as plenty of late 1970s rock and that makes sense, given the lead single was released in 1979, then most of the singles followed in 1980, with the final one and this album arriving in 1981. It’s the bridge of eras as her popularity declined, disco died and most artists wondered at what might happen next.

The high points here are definitely I Believe In Your Sweet Love, Sitting On The Edge Of The Ocean, and I’m Just A Woman, and the fact that none of these managed to chart in the UK singles chart is basically a crime against music. The lower points are probably We Danced On The Ceiling and the titular Goodbye To The Island, but it’s only by a sliver.

If you’re looking for her 1980s power hits, you won’t find them here.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1981 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £3.00 from a Discogs.com seller.

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