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BEING A POP STAR IS WEIRD. THERE’S NOT MUCH HANGING OFF A YACHT IN THE CARIBBEAN.

THE FOO FIGHTERS’ FAVOURITE GUEST STAR IS IN REFLECTIVE MOOD AS HE RELEASES HIS ‘BOOKEND’ COMPILATION THE BEST OF ME. IN A REVEALING INTERVIEW RICK ASTLEY TELLS US ABOUT HIS S.A.W. YEARS, FORGING HIS OWN WAY, THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY LIFE AND HIS HEAVY METAL ALTER EGO.
Rick Astley’s new compilation The Best Of Me includes a whole host of reworkings of his biggest hits
© Peter Neill

Rick Astley is having his ‘Bob Dylan moment’. Alongside their studio incarnations, his new greatest hits compilation The Best Of Me includes striking reinterpretations of his biggest tracks. Fancy hearing Never Gonna Give You Up recast as a heartwrenching piano forte ballad? Together Forever reworked as a late-night smoky jazz standard? Then step right this way…

While we’re not in the realms of Tangled Up In Blue performed as a polka here, the 10 freshly recorded, ‘reimagined’ songs that feature on the comp’s second disc are intriguing reboots some distance away from the originals. “Dylan has that thing where he just goes off on one on stage and even the musicians in his band don’t know what he’s up to until they get to a certain lyric or moment,” Rick explains of His Bobness’ liking for on-the-fly transformations of his own back catalogue. “The one thing I’ve done with my new versions is that I sing the same melody, it’s just that everything else is different. The key, the tone of the whole thing, the structure is changed here and there.”

The message is clear, though, the originals of those 80s hits in particular sound very much of their time – Linn 9000 drum machine and all – but their structures and melodies are timeless. “The Best Of Me is a bookend. Re-recording the songs has been a nice experience,” adds Rick. “It’s been enjoyable to revisit something from 32 years ago and just pretend I’m from a different universe and say, ‘This is how I’d do it today’.

“Pete Waterman had a first listen to the album the other day and remarked that [the reimagined version] made him realise just what a good song Together Forever is,” Astley adds.

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About Classic Pop

In the latest issue, our cover stars are The Police – discover the truth behind their notorious history of inter-band strife with our must-read interview. We also hear from George Michael’s closest collaborator, producer and songwriter James Jackman, to get the inside story on the star’s later years and meet husband-and-wife team Martin and Shirlie Kemp who join forces for jazz standards LP, In The Swing Of It. Elsewhere, we catch up with Rick Astley for a revelatory chat as he celebrates the release of new compilation The Best Of Me, A-ha’s Magne Furuholmen drops down the chimney to tell us about his superbly bleak festive solo album White Xmas Lies and we serve up a bonus for fans of his band by taking a deep dive into the studio work of A-ha in our Album By Album feature. We grab a chat, too, with Ray Slijngaard as 2 Unlimited prepare for a host of UK arena shows as part of the We Love The 90s tour. Our classic album is Blondie’s Parallel Lines and we also hear from Debbie Harry about her acclaimed autobiography Face It. On the reviews front, Classic Pop runs its critical eye over new releases including Coldplay, Beck, Jack Penate, INXS, David Byrne and No-Man while our packed reissues section features Madonna, George Michael and Wham!, Prefab Sprout, Michael Jackson, The Blue Nile, Spandau Ballet, Happy Mondays, Dollar, Peter Gabriel, Mark Hollis and much more. For our live reviews, we check out shows by Gary Numan, OMD, Lloyd Cole and a double header of The Psychedelic Furs and Wendy James.