Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is the 2000 debut eponymous album Precious by British pop group and UK Eurovision contestants, Precious. Is this album a Precious gift to the ears, or does it score nil points? Read on…
This 12 track album oddly opens with a tape rewind sound for second single Rewind, along with the gurgling bass synth line set alongside some sweeping strings. It’s a good start, almost hinting at some kind of disco pedigree at a slower pace. The song soon begins to plod along with the synth bass, and the vocals work well, with some great harmonies and breathless gasps in the background. The style heavily reminds me of contemporaries Billie and Britney Spears. Rightly, this track gave the group a hit, reaching #11 in the UK.
Next up is fourth and final single New Beginning, but sadly this was also the end, as the track flopped at #50 in the UK, and the group never bothered the charts again. I vaguely remember this track from radio play at the time, and it’s a shame that it failed to find success, as it is actually really quite catchy – and their best track. However set alongside the likes of Spice Girls, Steps, Billie, and Britney, it’s easy to imagine that there was just a bit too much of similar sounds.
Step To Me is next and the track lifts the pace as an R&B beat drops in again with an almost sinister sounding music box sound duelling with an electric guitar. Again the vocal harmonies from Anya, Jenny (who would go on to join Atomic Kitten), Kalli, Louise, and Sophie, work really well and really bring warmth in their layers. The track is still pretty chilled out though. It’s a nice little track.
That’s followed by It’s Gonna Be My Way which has a wonderful almost garage sound to it – loaded with shuffling beats and pizzicato synth strings – and vocally it sounds like a love child of some missing Spice Girls album track meets We Got The Love by Touch Of Soul. It’s another nice sounding mellow song, but I’d guess it’s mellowness led to it only scraping into the Top 30 at #27.
Heaven With You is up next, and this track feels like pretty much the same as the above. Loaded with vocal harmonies, although there’s some almost childish sounding vocals at the start which don’t really set it up with a strong start. Apart from the chorus, the rest of the song lacks some singalong qualities, although the harmonies towards the end are quite nice, allowing the ladies to show off their vocal power.
That leads on to Much Too Late, which sees a chime bar usher in acoustic guitars, soft ‘ha ha ha‘ vocals, and a gentle beat. This is a mid-tempo ballad with the ladies taking turns to sing, and this again allows some wonderful vocal performances, but unfortunately this feels very much like a paint-by-numbers stool ballad, with the step-off gear change for the final third. It sounds nice, but it is somewhat benign.
Next is Ain’t It Funny How, and this has a playful sound, with some kind of whistling synth, and deep bass and piano chords, as brass weaves throughout and lots of ‘mmm‘ harmonies. This gives the song quite a lot of interesting points, and it works really well. Rapper Herbie Crichlow turns up half-way through alongside some record scratches that have lurked in the background until that point. His voice works as a great pace and tone shift. It works really well. ‘How could it ever be boring?‘ they ask… quite!
It momentarily sounds like we’re off to space for I Count The Minutes as spacey synths bleep and pads build up with a strummed guitars before the verse and beat drops in. This track was written by songwriter extraordinaire, Diane Warren, and it’s mostly a nice up-beat break from what has almost become a sleepy album. It’s a well rounded track although the auto-tune moment in the middle jars a bit. Again, we’re put through a step-off-the-stool gear change that you can see coming a mile off. It needs an edit to save it from this predictability.
Next is the album’s lead single, and the group’s Eurovision entry Say It Again. The group took this to Eurovision, but unlike the UK chart (where it reached #6), they scored just 38 points, and finished 12th. The track has a wonderful sound to it, bouncing along effortlessly. It’s backed with record scratches, an easy flowing melody and catchy chorus, the track does lack from a big directional step, and that’s sorely missed in Eurovision.
That’s followed by Stand Up, which drops in with some fantastic disco style – complete with robotised vocals, handclaps, funky bass, and brass stabs all in place. This is unexpected, and is a belter that really should have made it as a single. I can imagine there could have been a plethora of lengthy booming remixes of it. Sadly a huge missed opportunity for a hit.
These Days is next, returning us to the strummed guitar over a shuffling unintrusive garage-style beat. The vocals are all in place here, and this song is a really nice light harmonious song that seems to flow along effortlessly and you can almost feel the sun shining. It’s a really nice song.
The album closes with Talk About It, a heartfelt ballad over a slow finger snap track loaded with vocal harmonies and more acoustic guitar. It’s a song that allows the vocals to shine here, with the musicians stepping back to let them shine one last time.
Over all this album is mostly just really nice to listen to.
There are some real highlights here – New Beginning, Say It Again and the wonderful Stand Up are the best songs here, but there are so many tracks that have wonderful vocal harmonies and gently shuffle along that it’s hard to dislike any of them. There is an issue of the album being very much of a style, and despite the vast range of songwriters – including stalwarts Diane Warren and Wendy Page (Billie Piper, Hilary Duff, Martine McCutcheon), the album is fairly similar in style.
The lowest point is Heaven With You which just doesn’t hang together very well, but even this low point doesn’t dent the over all ‘niceness’ of the album. Niceness is just, well, nice, and that does become a bit tedious after a while, and the step-off-the-stool Westlife moments can be seen a mile off.
If you liked Precious’ sound, and that of Billie, Britney, perhaps B*Witched and Steps slow songs, then I suspect you’ll enjoy this album.
- POP RESCUE 2022 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2000 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.99 from a Discogs.com seller.