Eurovision Song Contest winners and multi-million album sellers Bucks Fizz released their long-awaited brand new studio album last year under the name OBF (Original Bucks Fizz) after losing a legal battle against former band member Bobby G to retain the use of the name Bucks Fizz. However, original members Mike Nolan, Jay Aston and Cheryl Baker have proved that they haven't lost their fizz with this collection of new tracks and dramatically reworked versions of their old hits. Here is a review of the new Bucks Fizz album which you can buy through their fan club; just email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
- My Camera Never Lies - The first indication that the new Bucks Fizz are a mellower beast with this dreamy chill-out acoustic version of number one power pop hit My Camera Never Lies with Mike on lead vocals.
- Leave Them Alone - Another Mike-centric track with a light summer reggae vibe. Some lovely sax and perfect harmonies combine to make the perfect track to cruise through London in your convertible with the roof down soaking up the rays.
- Heart of Stone - Bucks Fizz goes roots/country with a skiffle-influenced version of a track they originally released in 1988 which then had more of a rock ballad feel. Cher went on to cover the song bringing it to the charts in 1990.
- The Day Is Mine - In many ways the most "modern" and contemporary sounding of the new tracks, this Jay Aston-led electro pop could easily be released as a single with some subtle remixing and by boosting up the rest of the band's vocals on the chorus.
- I Hear Talk - A brilliant jazz/skiffle version of the group's 80's hit, this was the first (and only?) single used to promote the new album and gives Bucks Fizz a true grown-up, retro, yet strangely fresh sound with a lead vocal from Cheryl.
- Joy! - More reggae sounds with a Mike Nolan lead vocal and a real happy vibe. Could be boosted up a little and given a more powerful gospel choir sound but still a lovely energetic song; the exclamation mark in the title says it all.
- Can't Stand The Heat - Jay Aston's personal favourite, this was always a great dance track in its original incarnation but now given a lively latin flamenco feel. Makes me think of vacations overseas in the blazing hot sunshine - a real holiday vibe.
- My Angel - A beautiful and poignant old school styled jazz ballad sung by Cheryl Baker; sublime.
- Talking In Your Sleep - Laid-back and surprisingly atmospheric version of yet another 80's hit, this has a subtle power and depth with a slightly gallic flavour.
- Love To Love - Sounding instantly dated despite being a new track, this isn't one of my favourites although one could be charitable and call it "sweet". Bland and unmemorable.
- Making Your Mind Up - I've always hated this track (sorry Mike!) from the day it won Eurovision back in 1981 but this version is a revelation! I never thought in a million years that I could ever like this song but it's one of the highlights of the album, given a whole new lease of life with a perky yet laid-back jazz style. I could just put this track on repeat and chill out all day.
- Ain't It A Shame (Ballad of Bucks Fizz) - This is a very clever track lyrically but would probably irritate the hell out of non-hardcore Bucks Fizz fans with its repetitive country refrain. The song includes many references to old Fizz tracks and is a quite melancholy look back at the mixed fortunes of the group over the years.
Overall, this is a pretty strong album from a classic pop band which left me occasionally missing Bobby's harder-edged rockier vocals and the energetic percussion that was an essential part of the group's sound. However, Fame & Fortune shows a real maturity and an ear for a great tune combined with strong lead vocals and the ever-present perfect harmonies. With the right backing (are you listening out there record companies and promoters?) Bucks Fizz could definitely give the younger pop bands a run for their money and still be a musical force to be reckoned with.
More good news for Fizz fans is that Mike Nolan is releasing his very first solo album called In My Life, a personal and poignant collection of songs; a contemporary twist on some 70's influenced classics. The album is now available to pre-order from Mike's website and look out for some TV, radio and live appearances too. I shall be reviewing Mike's new album in the very near future so watch this space!