“Kylie Minogue” (1994)
Reviewed by Christopher Smith
February 1993. Kylie surprises everyone by signing to credible dance label deconstruction, having spend five years at PWL and selling over 30,000,000 records in the process. What would a new environment bring and how much would she ‘alienate’ her existing fanbase by making this move? Kylie wisely spend 1993 writing and recording in London, Los Angeles and New York and wouldn’t resurface until the Brit Awards in February 1994, when she announced ‘new music’ and a relaunch in the Spring. But by June, nothing had been seen or heard of this. This was mostly due to some last minute reproduction on many of the ten tracks that made the final album cut. Somewhere between 20 and 30 songs were actually written and recorded for this album over a fifteen month period with any number of different writers and producers involved. Ultimately it would fall to new collaborators Brothers In Rhythm to ‘polish’ off the final draft. Many tracks were lost at this stage including pop/dance stonkers like “Love Is Waiting”, “Difficult By Design”, “Living For Your Loving” and the cutie “Aston Martin”. Many of these would not see the light of day until the internet revolution really kicked off or turn up on expanded re-releases many years later.
‘NewKylie’ (or DanceKylie as this period of her career would be known as) and the PR machine would kick into gear in the early Autumn that year and finally we could all decide just how great this move was…
1. Confide In Me
‘NewKylie’ starts here with this one song and what a stir it caused when showcased to the world in August 1994. At just under six minutes in length, this dance/indie pop/trip-pop epic goes against everything that Kylie had recorded or released prior. It took some getting used to even for the most hardened of Kylie fan’s but once accepted it eats into the mind and becomes addictive again and again. Brilliant production and arrangement from new collaborators Brothers In Rhythm (“Finer Feelings”) as eastern influences and twangs are intermixed with a full string orchestra and haunting vocals from Kylie herself, hitting notes and taking her voice places it had NEVER been before. And as if that wasn’t enough, an even more mind-blowing video that sees Kylie playing various roles as she asks you to dial 1-555 and confide. Critics lauded this song upon its release, many calling it simply the best thing she had ever recorded. The song was an instant smash upon its release, topping the chart in Australia and charting high in many other countries across the world. Magnificent in scope and a truly unforgettable moment that opened a whole new chapter and a rebirth.
As if “Confide In Me” could be any more different than everything that had gone before, then “Surrender” is different again. Breathy, sexy lyrics and vocals, as Kylie informs her man that she’s given in to him, and it gets quite pervy towards the end – “come to me. Come, come, come to me”! With a superb mid-90’s dance beat running throughout and Kylie’s long, high note holding at the end, this is another stunner that keeps your ears wide open and no doubt, mouth too!
3. If I Was Your Lover
More funky dance with a great rhythm beat now with the first of two tracks written and produced by Jimmy Harry. “If I Was Your Lover” is sassy and more harder-edged than “Surrender” and showcases the continued diversity of ‘NewKylie’. This is rumoured to of been a possible single release in early 1995, but never materialised. More breathy, saucy singing from our Kyle’s as she promises “If I was your lover, I’d hold you in my arms from dusk ’till dawn. If I was your lover one night would last for eternity if we were together” ooh eck!
4. Where Is The Feeling?
Perhaps the closest song, in production style at least, to a PWL track, “Where Is The Feeling?” is a cool dance anthem so typical of this period. Its light and great fun and bounces along for its full six and a half minute duration. This became the third and ultimately final single release from the album a full eight months after “Put Yourself In My Place” and, although it got a full remix and reproduction from Brothers In Rhythm, it did not chart very highly. Oddly, the video uses BIR’s ‘Dolphin mix’ instead of the ‘Bish Bosh’ remix that was generally promoted as the remixed single.
5. Put Yourself In My Place
Needle scratching opens this next song and one wonders what we will get next…WOW! Electric guitars, superb keyboarding and synthesizers laden this down tempo number and build to an awesome chorus. This was the second single released from the album in November 1994 and spent seven weeks on the UK top 40. Its video is one of Kylie’s most memorable as she pays homage to Jane Fonda’s performance in the film ‘Barbarella’. Its difficult to name a standout track on this album, but “Put Yourself In My Place” may just steel that prize… Power vocals from Kylie throughout, especially over the final choruses to fade – this is truly one of the greatest songs she has ever recorded. Epic. Outstanding.
6. Dangerous Game
Another epic, orchestral ballad now that begins with Kylie’s tender vocal about losing a loved one, that finishes as a ‘show tune’ with a crescendo of intense, solid, power vocals with superb string accompaniment. With production from Brothers In Rhythm, this is yet another great example of Kylie leaving behind the past and taking herself and her voice in new and ‘dangerous’ directions. She ends up pleading with her man “but the feeling still remains, and the embers feed the flame, how I hope you feel the same, so our love may grow agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain”. Goosebumps aplenty with this amazing song!
7. Automatic Love
After two ballads, the pace picks up with this classy epic, complete with strings and great drum beat. Yet again, Kylie’s voice is outstanding as she stretches herself to the very limit of her ability, and holds that last note AND keeps it going throughout the final choruses. Perhaps she’s been learning to use a computer dating service, as she tells us “I didn’t feel you enter in my main menu, but every time I touch the key, the screen is showing you”. Remember this was 1994, so that’s quite advanced! Nevertheless, this is a highly memorable song and another standout album track.
8. Where Has The Love Gone?
The beat goes up now with this lush, chilled dance anthem that never outstays its near eight-minute length. Kylie’s soulful and commanding vocals, envelop every different room of this song, as it weaves and criss-crosses its path, supported by a superb male backing vocal that almost makes this feel like a dance duet towards the end. Terry Farley and Pete Heller’s production was spot on for the era and still sounds fresh listening to it again today. “A love so strong. Where did it go wrong?” sings Kylie. One thing’s for sure, nothing is at all wrong with this incredible musical adventure. Careful not to lose yourself too much!
The cool, chilled dance continues with another awesome anthem and its thanks to the Pet Shop Boys for the gorgeous writing on this tune. Once again, Kylie’s vocal is breathy and sensual as she ‘slides’ in and out of each verse and chorus, repeating “again and again you’ve got me falling, again and again I’m falling in love”. Its hypnotic rhythm and beat is again thanks to Farley and Heller’s production that perfectly connects with Neil and Chris’s concept, whilst never losing sight of clearly being nothing but a PSB tune.
10. Time Will Pass You By
More different sounds now as the album closes with a track produced by Mike Pickering and Paul Heard, better known as two-thirds of M People. You can just imagine Heather Small’s voice layering this gorgeous uplifting dance anthem, but it’s Kylie’s joyous voice we hear as she advises to enjoy every moment of life – “time will pass you by so quickly, yea it waits for no man”. The song is a cover of Northern Soul singer Tobi Legend’s 1968 hit and was scheduled to be released as the third single from the album in early 1995, but this never happened, and its a real shame, as you can only wonder how the video would of turned out…!
After nearly two years in the making, the album that would eventually be simply and effectively titled “Kylie Minogue”, was released in September 1994, with its striking black and white photography (courtesy of Rankin) of Kylie wearing a suit and glasses, looking more grown up as well as clearly having fun with it all. The album received more than positive reviews from across the industry, many highlighting the classy, mature production and Kylie’s ease with her new surroundings and the new-found confidence with her own voice. A whole new legion of fans who perhaps had previously not warmed to her music also ‘discovered’ Kylie with this release. The album performed well becoming her highest charted long player in The UK and Australia since “Enjoy Yourself“. Longer term, the album fizzled out after its initial success, possibly due to the lack of a tour and a big gap between the second and third single. Whatever the reason, “Kylie Minogue” marks a important moment in her career both in progression and direction, and is an outstanding album that must rank as one of her very best.
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