Friday, June 29, 2012

Johииy Hαtes Jαzz - Turи Bαcк Tнe Clocк (1988)

One of the unlikely success stories of the late 80's New Romantic FM world and a prime example of that intriguing subgenre known as "sophisti-pop", JHJ's 1988 one-shot is mostly remembered as an interesting footnote here in the U.S. due to the #1 status of hit single "Shattered Dreams", a textured slice of Yamaha-led fun that still holds up rather well today.

That being said, this album is severely underrated within the context of the time period as whole: it's right up there with the best material of Swing Out Sister, Prefab Sprout and even The Blue Nile in sheer sonic crafture. Lead vocalist Clark Datchler is confidence personified and a minor songwriting genius: he wrote or co-wrote every cut here, including the shoulda-been-a-hit-but-wasn't 'Listen' and minor-key curio 'Don't Let It End This Way', which features a strangely haunting keyboard refrain between verses. His smooth tenor gives even the ballads, particularly the title track, a kick they wouldn't have had with a lesser singer.

Bubbling synths, layered guitar, gated drums and plenty of personality: you guys know the drill. Evidently they're due for a brand new record sometime this year after a two decade hiatus: we can only hope it lives up to the commercial appeal that these cuts have in spades.

Try It
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