Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Wet Wet Wet - Popped In Souled Out (1987)

I want peace, love and understanding....

  

Released September 1987

Clydebank band Wet Wet Wet had been around since 1982, but this was their first album. The group, as the title suggests, were a mixture of pop and soul, with some rock hints in there with the occasional nod to the new wave they grew up listening to. The group suffered a bit from being dismissed as a teen pop outfit, but in many ways they were more than that. They wrote their songs as a group and they understood music history, often throwing in a reference to a classic from time past, either musically or lyrically. They are a bit hard to categorise. Launching in the eighties, they use a bit of typical eighties backing, but they also use rock guitars and retrospective soul stylings. Vocalist Marti Pellow had a winning, lush soulful voice too. So much so that he could make an ordinary song sound better than it actually was.

TRACK LISTING

1. Wishing I Was Lucky
2. East Of The River
3. I Remember
4. Angel Eyes
5. Sweet Little Mystery
6. I Don't Believe (Sonny's Letter)
7. Temptation
8. I Can Give You Everything
9. The Moment You Left Me
10. Words Of Wisdom
11. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
12. World In Another
13. Wishing I Was Lucky (Live)                        

Wishing I Was Lucky is a disco-ish groove of a pop song with a hook of a chorus line, but otherwise is a bit of a confused affair. There are influences from early eighties group ABC in there, for me, particularly on the keyboard sound. East Of The River is an eighties-style soul number with a killer brass riff. The lyric "I won't work for nobody but you" is from The Miracles' Love Machine from 1974. I Remember has a nice bass line, a really slowed-down soul/funk beat and a great vocal.

The two singles, the sweet soul of Angel Eyes and the Motown-ish Sweet Little Mystery are both absolute perfect pieces of soul/pop, brilliantly executed and deserved hits. Angel Eyes references the Bacharach/David songs The Look Of Love and Walk On By.  I Don't Believe (Sonny's Letter), maybe surprisingly, namechecks Linton Kwesi Johnson's roots reggae anti-police brutality poem. I am sure the reference was lost on 95% of the people who bought this album.


The album's classic track, for me, has always been the magnificent, uplifting soul of Temptation, with its strong "don't waste my fucking spirit" line near the end. Pellow's voice is simply superb on this song. The line "all the tea in China" comes from Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey. "Peace, love and understanding" is a nod to Elvis Costello's What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding.

I Can Give You Everything is a an upbeat piece of disco soul, with wah-wah guitar and funky percussion. The Moment You Left Me is a slow soul ballad lifted higher by Pellow's vocal. Words Of Wisdom has a catchy beat but is otherwise pretty unremarkable. Pellow does a bit of Michael Jackson hiccup in his delivery. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight is a laid-back, brassy cover of a James Taylor song. World In Another is a lively number with a frantic bass line. Although this is a strong ending to the album you can't help but feel the best material was to be found on the first half of it.

The best version of the album is the remastered "30th Anniversary" edition.

B-