Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 14/04/97

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

View from a compilation album: the Kim Wilde story

Kim Wilde must be one of the most anthologised pop stars this side of the members of ABBA. In my own collection, I have no less than six compilation albums summarising various stages of Ms Wilde's career.

The first of these is 1984's The Very Best Of Kim Wilde, released by EMI shortly after Kim jumped labels to MCA. A straightforward 20-track summation of her career to that point, it includes a lot of hits that would appear on virtually every compilation to follow, and no less than eight numbers from her debut self-titled album.

Not content with that, EMI then licensed eight tracks featured on that album to HitBound Records, which paired them up with eight Sheena Easton songs to release The Best Of Kim Wilde & Sheena Easton (well, they could hardly call it Leather Vixens And Sheep, could they?) The two ladies actually had something in common apart from being female, British, and successful in 1981; they'd also both defected to MCA.

For almost ten years, though, there was silence on the Kim compilation front (with the exception of two Japanese remix albums which I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't read about them on CLOSE: The Kim Wilde Fan Page.) Kim produced five albums for MCA, with varying degrees of success, the most notable being 1989's Close, which featured three UK Top Ten hits, and 1986's Another Step, with her US#1 cover of 'You Keep Me Hangin' On'. Then, in the inevitable cash-in, MCA released The Singles Collection 1981-1993. As the title indicates, that period includes Kim's EMI days; no less than eight of the 17 numbers date from that period. So skewed is the selection, in fact, that one album, 1990's Love Moves, is ignored entirely.

MCA has been reasonably quiet on the compilation front since then, releasing only the lame The Remix Collection in Australia and Japan and an updated greatest hits collection in France last year. But EMI was apparently set into a frenzy of activity by the MCA release. First, it re-released Kim's first three albums in a box set with replica album covers. Then, last year, it released The Gold Collection, which is actually just Kim's first two albums strung together. Most recently, EMI Germany released the Premium Gold Collection (pictured above) (which CLOSE tells me also scored a US release under the title The Best Of Kim Wilde: Centenary Collection). And there's another re-release of the first two albums as a three-disc set. Where will it end?

The answer to that question is, of course, when the money stops rolling in. A more interesting question is: which Kim Wilde hits are so great that they appear on every one of these albums? The answer is a fairly short list: 'Kids In America', 'Chequered Love', 'Water On Glass', 'View From A Bridge' and 'Cambodia'. 'Love Blonde' and 'Boys' are also popular if not universal choices.

Equally, you might ask why do I keep buying these compilations, given that I've already got all the albums they derive from? Well, the 1984 release was the first ever CD I bought, so there wasn't a lot of overlap back then. The Sheena Easton pairing is tacky, plus I don't have the Sheena material elsewhere. The MCA album includes two tracks which aren't on any other album, and the remix collection is all new-on-CD remixes. The Gold Collection isn't supposed to have any new material on it, but because of a remastering error, it includes an instrumental version of 'Cambodia' as a single track which isn't available on CD otherwise.

Most valuable of all in this respect is the Premium Gold Collection, which actually features one track which has never been on CD before: 'Watching For Shapes', the original Cambodia B-side (although back then it was known as 'Don't Count Me Out'). Kim's always been one of those artists who includes non-album B-sides, so there's a good disc or more's worth of material waiting to be exploited in this way. If they keep doing it one track per disc, though, the W section on my CD shelf will get rather long.

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