Today’s POP RESCUE from an obscure fate, is the 1985 second album Captured by American singer and songwriter, Rockwell. Does this album come from the Mind of a genius, or is this more a hostage situation? Read on…
This 8 track LP opens somewhat dramatically with second single Peeping Tom, but then leans slightly towards what sounds like a daytime TV theme pastiche. Thankfully, it shakes this off with a strong beat and lots of synth strings as Rockwell delivers some flawless vocals. In a surprise twist in 80’s pop music, the ‘peeping Tom’ in this song is not Rockwell, but a lady. The song chugs along wonderfully, joined mid-way by a big guitar solo that doesn’t disappoint. We’re off to a great start.
Next is lead single He’s A Cobra which keeps the music flowing. There’s a nice bass here, and the track bounces along perfectly. There’s tons of synths, some of which Rockwell would have performed alongside his vocals. Tucked away on backing vocals is Motown label legend, Stevie Wonder. If it wasn’t for the LP sleeve, I would have missed it. Why was he there, and why was he so tucked away?
T.V. Psychology follows this and it has quite a kooky, almost spooky sound to the melody. There’s a scattering of lovely little synths throughout. The chorus is a delight – the backing vocalists are expertly wielded here, and in a way that adds more kookiness to the song. It’s a nice catchy effect.
Side One closes with We Live In A Jungle. This is another upbeat track, with Rockwell’s slightly softer vocals sitting over a simple 80’s pop beat and bouncy bass. The chorus isn’t particularly strong though, and that makes it less memorable. There’s some nice synthscapes emerging here.
Side Two opens with title track Captured (By An Evil Mind). This has a great percussion filled bouncy start, with some wonderful vocals throughout. The song, as you imagine, and as repeated in other tracks on this album, is a little sinister in topic – with Rockwell being held hostage by a lady.
That’s followed by Don’t It Make You Cry and quite frankly, this track jars with the whole album. Whilst it is well produced and Rockwell does a great job with the vocals (often sounding like Michael Jackson), this paint-by-numbers American-styled schmaltzy ballad is like a cuckoo amongst the rest of the tracks. It feels like it’s long winded.
Tokyo is next and this brings a return to form. It’s a mid-tempo song about a woman named Sue Yamaki. The song has loads of percussion and synths, giving a playful, if 1980’s Japanese stereotyped music sound. It works really well with the vocals, and extra kudos goes to having a chorus in the Japanese language. That chorus will have you singing along before the song is out.
The album closes with Costa Rica, and this takes a lighter tone, as it squeezes in a few latin sounds amongst the wave of synths. This is, as expected, quite a chilled and warm sounding song with a gentle synth-loaded pop track underneath. What sounds like a flute joins in near the end before the track ends the album almost as dramatically as it began.
Over all, this Rockwell album is a delight. It is absolutely loaded with fantastic sounding 1980’s synths, and that really makes it stand out. Production is slick, and Rockwell’s vocals are flawless. The fact that the album and singles didn’t chart in the UK is a crime against music.
Don’t It Make You Cry is the weakest song here, as it mostly just feels misplaced amongst the rest of the tracks, and He’s A Cobra and Peeping Tom are the strongest. The album also manages to make synth pop lunge into different styles from the kookiness of TV Psychology and the hostage situation of the title track, through to pseudo-Japanese and Costa Rican styled music.
It’s a wonderful example of mid-80’s synth pop, and really does need to be put inside your ears.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1985 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.50 from a Discogs.com seller.