Monday, January 13, 2014

Kissing The Pink

I am not sure when I first heard Kissing The Pink. I have a vague memory of them being on a TV show or perhaps JJJ. But I do remember buying their first album in one of the Impact sales. 

I doubt it was just the price and the intriguing cover that led me to buy Naked - I am sure I knew one or two of the songs. Released in 1983 it was part of the New Wave. What makes the album memorable is the eclectic mix of instruments and styles - sax, keys, strings. A lead singer who intones with a lovely rounded sound rather than sings, a beautiful female voice. It opens with The last film an anthem that returns in hymn form. Mr Blunt is rousing, Love lasts for ever should have been a hit single. The big man restless (so relentless), elegiac Watching their eye - and more. A complex and varied album, apparently they wanted Eno to produce it which is intriguing. I played it a lot & can sing many of the songs, but...

They weren't high in my consciousness - I didn't note the names of the members or who played what. They released 3 more albums & though I recognise the third one didn't buy any. They fell into that grouping of music you like but don't get immersed into collecting. 

And then, when the internet was still young, I found (no idea how or why, probably random search on obscure groups I was interested in) Jeff Grote's Kissing The Pink site ( - definitely the last word on the group (their Wikipedia entry is brief). I minimally added to it - if you go to lyrics, the Naked ones are a scan of the Australian inner sleeve which uniquely included them all. 

In addition to the information Jeff has a myriad of sound files - all four albums, remix albums, 2 live BBC sessions, outtakes alternatives and demos. You email Jeff for access to this - I am not sure how careful he is (perhaps more so as the music is now available as purchaseable downloads - the first 3 albums are on iTunes), but. Anyway, I now have nearly 150 tracks by them. 

The second album, What Noise, develops the sound and style of the first - more mature, political (Greenham, for those who remember for example), mixed moods. The other side of heaven could have been a single, but as with the first album, the overall package it what impresses as the songs weave their varied courses, which may be the problem. 

With Certain Things Are Likely they became KTP and perhaps closer to a dance mainstream. Another great album but it didn't break through. 

The swan song Sugarland develops the sound, retains a little quirkiness and again didn't find success. I imagine the third and fourth albums lost the fans of the first (true Cliffords, to mix bands) and didn't spark with new listeners. 

So here we are, 30 years on from the first album - why this post? Well it's my blog so.... Perhaps it's nostalgia, but groups from this period (like Blancmange) often get a play when I need something jolly - it is just really good music. Plus it shows the change in the music industry. They got support, backing, distribution from a label but also pressure to create a hit sound. These more independent days mean you can go your own way more easily, make music more easily, but find it harder to get heard and a decent audience. I don't know how much Dave Stafford makes from sales (now mainly bandcamp I think) but he hasn't quit his day job. And kickstarter is not easy for many (a post on that later). Plus you have old farts like me spending time with decades old music (but hey I do listen to some now stuff). 

And don't get me started (too late) on the focus on tracks: Naked is an ALBUM a sum of its parts. Yes some tracks are more immediately accessible but the variety and selection is what counts. 

Anyway, a group whose sound has lasted. Highly recommended. 

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