Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Wonderful Life (1987)
"Wonderful Life," Black (1987)
An excellent pop album; that's the best way to summarize it. I, for one, can't understand why this album didn't race all the way up to number one, nor why it's been largely forgotten. I guess it might have something to do with the time period it came out in. Maybe Black (aka Colin Vearncombe) was a bit too sophisticated, moody, caustic, or mysterious to compete with the cookie-cutter pop fare of the time. After all, I reckon audiences were far more receptive to the banal characters produced by the Stock-Aitken-Waterman factory than to something as brilliant as this gem.
One of the things you'll notice is the constant interplay between a melancholy vibe, a forcibly hopeful demeanor, and keenly catchy choruses. The title track, which kicks off the album, demonstrates how these contradictory elements create a tension that totally captivates the listener. As the album moves on, you run across some supremely catchy songs that are delivered with both finesse and intensity. "Everything's Coming up Roses" and "I'm Not Afraid" both have Black singing with rather edgy insistence, almost as if he's trying to convince himself.
Another boon that this album possesses is the fact that its excellently structured. It begins with a timeless title track, goes through various phases (including some vaguely Latin and Spanish twists here and there), and concludes on the most beautifully melancholic note possible: "Sweetest Smile." You'll have to hear it to believe it.
Despite having various items that scream "80s Production!", the album has aged very well. It will no doubt leave you with several songs stuck in your head, so I apologize in advance. I also apologize if it sounds a bit too loud. This was one of the very first albums I ever transfered from vinyl, so there might be a bit of clipping here and there, and maybe two or three skips.
Like other stuff on this page, this album is out of print as a CD. If you enjoy this album, try to look for Black's compilation, The Collection, his 90s work as Colin Vearncombe or his recent Between Two Churches, where he once again assumes the name of Black.
And so, without further ado, here's "Wonderful Life," one of the best and most consistent pop albums you will ever hear:
1. Wonderful Life
2. Everything's Coming Up Roses
3. Something For The Asking
6. I'm Not Afraid
7. I Just Grew Tired
9. Just Making Memories
10. Sweetest Smile
Download (40.28 MB)