Belinda into the 90’s, in too deep and returning to the valley of the Go-Go’s.
by Mark Keen
Continuing from where I left off on part one, good news was coming around the corner in the UK in particular with the huge number one “Greatest Hits: Volume 1” which would follow in 1992 covering the period since 1987, and leading to the release of “Little Black Book” rather belatedly released almost a year after the “Live Your Life Be Free” single.
Another great track “I Plead Insanity” from the “Live Your Life Be Free” album which could have been a huge single, and appeared to be planned as such at one stage with a video produced, was also included, although there were no new tracks. This didn’t harm sales in the UK where the album went double platinum.
1993 signalled a fresh start. In many ways the power pop of the 1980s had gone out of fashion and Belinda had to find a new shtick. The top 10 “Real” album in the UK would come with much more natural cover art photos and no songs written or produced by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley, who had written and produced many of Belinda’s most well known hits. It perhaps lacked the production sheen of previous efforts and the songs had more in common with Belinda’s Go-Gos past, which was perhaps not a surprise with contributions from band members in the writing and production, including more involvement by Belinda herself. The album campaign got off to a decent start in the UK top 20 with “Big Scary Animal”.
A further single “Lay Down Your Arms” would reach the top 30 in the UK, before Belinda would find herself returning briefly to the comfort of the Go-Gos. The return to the Go-Gos in 1994 would see the release of a new greatest hits album “Return Of The Valley Of The Go-Gos” and a tour promoting the album. The album included the Go-Gos only top 30 hit with “The Whole World Lost Its Head” confirming Belinda’s continued popularity in the UK.
Belinda would find herself back working with Rick Nowels for the 1996 “A Woman And A Man” (UK No.12) and whilst the album did revitalise her career in Europe and the UK with four hits singles including two top ten hits, it appears to be an album that Belinda has few good memories of, particularly disliking the hook up with Per Gessle of Roxette infamy. Let’s start with the first hit “In Too Deep” (UK No.6) which to my mind is a real return to form.
Belinda would maintain the momentum with the Gessle written “Always Breaking My Heart” (UK No.8). Maybe it does feel like a Roxette cast off, but I love it anyway. Belinda also recorded “Falling Into You” for the album which ended up a worldwide hit for Celine Dion, and perhaps the regret at losing this song after a record label disagreement tainted Belinda’s love of this album.
Nevertheless there were a couple more great singles in “Love In The Key of C” (UK No.20) and particularly “California” (UK No.31) with sublime backing vocals by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Who can forget the haunting lyric “I remember I was in the tanning salon when I heard that River Phoenix had gone”? I think that is one of the best opening lines of any song! This is a classic song written by Rick Nowels and Billy Steinberg with Maria ‘Body Rock’ Vidal.
In 1999 Belinda returned with another greatest hits “Place On Earth: The Greatest Hits” and despite it being not that long since the previous hits collection it still proved a top 20 hit in the UK selling 100,000 copies. What interested fans was the three new tracks on the collection, which it is rumoured were recorded for an abandoned album. It was interesting to imagine would could have been as these singles were solid pop, including tracks with the producers of Cher’s “Believe” who were the go-to writers and producers for a period in the late 90s. “All God’s Children” was not a hit, but is worth checking out.
The new millennium would again see Belinda back with the Go-Gos reuniting for a new studio album “God Bless The Go-Gos” and a tour. Things would then go decidedly quiet for the next five years as Belinda, her husband (son of the late and great esteemed British actor, James Mason) and her son, Duke lived a quieter life in France after escaping LA. Coincidentally Duke would come out at 14, although Belinda had always been a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights as long as an animal rights activist for PETA.
In 2007 Belinda would return with the low profile, but interesting, album “Voila” sang entirely in French and featuring French standards such as “Ne Me Quite Pas” and “La Vie En Rose”.
In the last 10 years Belinda has toured extensively around the UK, including a memorable gig I was lucky enough to see at Manchester Cathedral. There has also been an extensive re-release schedule of all her albums through Edsel which include all the videos and interviews for each album. These make amusing viewings as Belinda’s recollection of which songs are on which album is hazy at times.
In addition, there were a number of compilations and a couple of new tracks, notably “Sun”, a song discovered by her son, and “Goodbye Just Go”.
In 2017 Belinda would release her most recent studio album “Wilder Shores”. I must admit I’ve not caught up with this album of Gurmukhi chants yet!
If you want to catch up with Belinda, she can be seen supporting Culture Club on tour in the Autumn.