I have done a number of posts that are book reviews related to music, a post talking about the albums have influenced me most, and there are those related to Frankie Goes To Hollywood and the book that I am writing about Frankie fans and Frankie’s music. But, to date, I have only done one post that was largely a review of a particular album (Berlin’s “Strings Attached”). This will be the second such post. The album I am discussing is Essential by T’Pau.
Let’s begin by setting a bit of context. T’Pau are from Shrewsbury, Shropshire. “So what?” you may ask. I am also a Shropshire Lad. “So what?” you may still be asking. Well, T’Pau burst onto the scene just as I was changing schools and came at a time that helped me to find a way of connecting with where I was from – which, after the previous few years for one reason or another, wasn’t easy. The singles “Heart and Soul” and “China in Your Hand” were just amazing. I remember getting very emotional as I listened to the charts one Sunday evening and it was confirmed that not only had “China in Your Hand” gone to Number 1, but it was also the 600th Number 1 ever in the UK. Like with my Frankie Goes To Hollywood collection, I had the 7″ and 12″ versions of the singles. The album “Bridge of Spies” followed and I would get the tape, vinyl, and CD.
And then there was seeing them live. As you can see from the ticket below, T’Pau don’t get a mention – they were there to support Bryan Adams. What an amazing night though. T’Pau and Bryan Adams. Other than when Berlin supported Frankie earlier that year, I cannot remember any other times where the support and main act have been so strong during the concerts I went to in the 80s and 90s (things can be a bit different now with the nostalgia tours). Unlike the Berlin/Frankie one though, I think it’s fair to say that I was a bit more excited to see “the support”, i.e., T’Pau. Ironically, whereas I have seen Bryan Adams live again twice more, I’m yet to see T’Pau again.
After the concert I often wore a T’Pau T-shirt that I had bought at the concert. Since this goes back to pre-digital days there may not be a picture of me in it and if there is, I’ve yet to get a scan of it. One thing I remember about the T-shirt was that on the back it had a list of countries that T’Pau were touring . However, within the list were the words “China In Your Hand”. This was a clever addition – so long as you read across the lines, as reading down the columns didn’t make a lot of sense!
In 1989, I moved away from Shropshire and it slipped from my life for most of the next 32 years, in a similar way so T’Pau largely slipped from my life. I suppose that musically, the gap was (naturally) filled by Roxette. But just as I have been going back to Shropshire more recently, so T’Pau are back.
You can find out more about the band from the page on Wikipedia. As you can see from that page, T’Pau disbanded in 1992, but lead singer Carol Decker continued to be active, performing under the name T’Pau at solo shows and 1980s nostalgia concerts. In 2013 she reunited with original band member and co-songwriter Ronnie Rogers for a 25th-anniversary UK tour and there has been new music since then. This is, I suppose, part of what has led to the new album “Essential”.
Perhaps the title makes it clear, but unlike “Strings Attached” by Berlin, this is much more a compilation, an essential collection, than a new album. There are only three new tracks. When I say “only three”, that’s a little unfair and untrue. As I noted above, I had “Bridge of Spies” and about a year ago I also picked up “The Promise”, but my T’Pau music library now comes to 64 tracks (not including any duplications)… “Essential” has 56 tracks, so I think you can appreciate just how much additional music the CD has added to the collection. And when I say “CD”, let’s just be clear – there are actually three CDs, beautifully presented.
I am not going to go through each of the CDs or tracks, commenting on them, just get it for yourself. I got mine for only about £8 – what a bargain. The only negative I had with the collection was that when I put the CDs into my computer to add to my music library, the central database had nothing for the second CD and errors for the third, so I had to sort all that out manually. A bit of a hassle, but not the end of the world (and something I assume will get fixed at some point).
I really love it how favourite musicians from the 1980s are still making new music, putting together collections like this, and touring. I really hope to see T’Pau again one day. And I really hope that they will go on to make a fully new album. In recent years, there have been some great new albums by acts that I love and that most would associate with the 1980s – Holly Johnson “Europa“, Berlin “Strings Attached” and “Transcendance“, Tom Bailey “Science Fiction“, Brian Nash “432-1: Open The Vein“, and, of course, the Pet Shop Boys just keep going.
One of the problems for all of these acts is getting their work known. I know that Carol Decker herself was one of those who has been most public about the problems of getting new music by “older bands” to be played on the radio. There is even a Nostalgia Chart for such acts now – for their new music, not the original stuff. I guess that’s part of the nature of the world we grew up in. I mentioned in this post already about how I listened to the charts. I’ve also just started reading a book (“Do They Know It’s Christmas Yet?” by James Crookes) which mentions the culture of listening to (and recording) the charts in the 1980s. But, at least for me, the charts are no longer important. In fact, I hate how the importance of charts on our youth may have corrupted management and others to be so focussed on ranking charts these days, but that’s a subject for another post. For me, music charts today have little relevance. I like to buy music, not stream it. Once I have bought a CD, the impact on charts now is minimal regardless of how many times I listen to it. And that is part of the reason why I am writing this post.
From what I can see from T’Pau’s social media posts, “Essential” has been doing really well in the charts. Great. It should do. But charts are inherently flawed and will often end up being dominated by those with greater marketing muscle and financial power. Trying to get things known in the world today cannot rely on charts alone. I know this from trying to promote my novels. And that is why I am doing this post. I want to do my bit to let people know that there is a CD by T’Pau that everyone should be getting. Forget chart positions. This is about quality. About nostalgia. About new music by a great band. Not just a great band from our youth, but a band that’s still making great music today.
Go and get the album today.
Further details about ordering and the band can be found here. #FloreatSalopia