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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Aug-18 > COMING AROUND AGAIN



How funny that music can fall so neatly into decades. The 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s each had their own signature sounds, fashions and defining mood. Very few artists who made their name in one era ever enjoyed hits in another. The simple reason is that the young fans who made them stars grow up and stop buying records, while the next generation of teens rarely want to listen to the music that their parents like. However, while pop fame often comes with a use-by date, there have been some honourable exceptions. The 80s saw several long-established – and even longforgotten – singers not only enjoy huge comebacks but, in some cases, produce classic cuts that completely eclipsed the past hits that had once defined them.


One of the first established artists to embrace the new sounds of the 80s was Cliff Richard, with Wired For Sound. That he was among the frontrunners leading the charge into synth-pop wasn’t surprising, since he’d been regularly reinventing himself since his emergence as an Elvis-styled rock’n’roller with the seminal British rock single Move It in 1958.

In 1979, Richard had scored his biggest hit for a decade with the disco-infused ballad We Don’t Talk Anymore. The international charttopper was written by Alan Tarney, who also played keyboards on the track, so it was only natural that he’d be asked to write and produce a whole album for Cliff. The result was 1981’s Wired For Sound, whose synthpop title track returned Cliff to the Top Five.

Richard also anticipated the influence of MTV, which launched that year, promoting Wired For Sound with a promo in which he rollerskated around the modernistic concrete environs of Milton Keynes wearing the then-new icon of the age, a Sony Walkman.


Cliff scored big but Tina Turner’s return to the top of the charts was one of the most impressive comebacks of all time. Born in Nutbush, Tennessee, which she would later immortalise in the 1973 hit Nutbush City Limits, the former Anna Mae Bullock came to fame in the Ike and Tina Turner Review, where the duo scored with such abrasive r’n’b shouters as River Deep – Mountain High in 1966. The aggression in their songs doubtless came in part from their stormy marriage and when their harrowing union dissolved, a few years after the hits dried up, it looked like her career would be reduced to reliving past glories on the cabaret circuit. However, a talent as volcanic as Turner’s would not quietly fade away, as searing live performances alongside The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry proved. Then, in 1982, she was one of several singers invited to perform on the synth-driven covers album Music Of Quality And Distinction Volume One by the British Electric Foundation, helmed by keyboard players Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, both founder members of Human League and Heaven 17.

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In the latest issue of Classic Pop, our cover star is the mighty Rick Astley. We have an exclusive in-depth chat with the singer as he returns with new record Beautiful Life – the pressure's on as he attempts to follow up his hit album 50. Synth-pop icons Heaven 17 look back on their superb LP The Luxury Gap and the legends keep on coming this month as The Human League talk us through their back catalogue, album by album. For ABBA fans, we go behind the scenes with Carl Magnus Palm for the inside track on their career in the recording studio and also serve up a buyer's guide to Sweden's finest. We travel Down Under to speak to Dannii Minogue as she relives her Neon Nights album 15 years on – it's the record that transformed her into a bona fide dancefloor icon. Massive Attack's imperious Blue Lines is our Classic Album this issue and we also meet Jennifer Warnes to talk about her brand new studio LP as well as her Oscar-winning songs that soundtracked the 80s. Our packed reviews section features new albums from All Saints, Gorillaz, The Proclaimers, Rick Astley and Gabrielle and many more while the reissues take in a superb Soft Cell boxset, Depeche Mode 12" singles, Morrissey and Jean-Michel Jarre. On the gig front, we're bowled over by an astonishing David Byrne live show, travel to the Isle of Wight Festival to see Depeche Mode and check out two legends, George Benson and Quincy Jones. Enjoy the issue! Steve Harnell Editor Classic Pop