The Singles Collection 1984-1990

The Singles Collection 1984-1990

by Jimmy Somerville


Scottish-born singer Jimmy Somerville became a surprise success in the mid-'80s. Instead of being Duran Duran-cute, Jimmy Somerville looked like the average boy next door. Instead of belting out his musical repertoire with a self-conscious urgency to prove himself as a singer (like Rick Astley or George Michael), Somerville possessed a dramatic, piercing falsetto that made the Associates' Billy Mackenzie sound like Tom Waits. But what really made Jimmy Somerville distinctive was his openness about his sexuality. The 1980s was the decade of androgyny, with artists like Annie Lennox, Boy George, and Poison emulating the gender-bending approach of 1970s-era David Bowie. Other performers such as Morrissey and the aforementioned George Michael kept their fans guessing about their sexual orientation. Jimmy Somerville, however, already answered the "is he or isn't he" question before anyone had a chance to ask, and he did so without a trace of mascara. Jimmy Somerville's career began as a member and co-founder of the dance-pop group Bronski Beat, and the here-goes-nothing frankness of the group's debut single, "Smalltown Boy," became an instant sensation, reaching the British Top Ten and becoming an MTV staple in America. The homosexual overtones of Bronski Beat's debut album, The Age of Consent, didn't stop it from becoming a major seller, and the follow-up single, "Why?," also secured a place in the upper reaches of the British pop chart and became an American danceclub favorite. After this initial success, however, Jimmy Somerville departed the group, forming the Communards in 1985 with keyboardist Richard Coles. The Communards' sound was basically a variation of Bronski Beat's disco-influenced dance-pop, and the duo recorded two albums (1986's Communards and 1987's Red) before disbanding, after which Somerville embarked on a sporadic solo career. The Singles Collection, which includes solo material as well as tunes by the Communards and Bronski Beat, is a collection of Jimmy Somerville's biggest hits, as well as a few obscurities. His lyrical approach detailing the feelings of homosexual alienation are evident in several tracks, particularly the classic "Smalltown Boy" and the Communards' self-explanatory "There's More to Love Than Boy Meets Girl." Somerville can be a remarkably intelligent songwriter, but often his talent is wasted with misguided cover tunes. His faux reggae version of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" is a bore, as is his watered-down Sylvester remake, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)." His rendition of "Comment Te Dire Adieu" is the worst by far, as his campy take on the Serge Gainsbourg classic (previously recorded by Francoise Hardy) can provoke uncontrollable snickering. "Don't Leave Me This Way" and the similarly arranged "Never Can Say Goodbye" (both recorded by the Communards) are the best of the covers, updating the exuberance of the Thelma Houston and Gloria Gaynor disco classics while showcasing Somerville's amazing vocal range. Bronski Beat's pulsating version of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (featuring Soft Cell vocalist Mark Almond) is also effective. Despite Jimmy Somerville's popularity as a member of two different groups, his lackluster 1989 solo release, Read My Lips, failed to match the success of the Communards or Bronski Beat. The inclusion of some of his forgettable solo work makes The Singles Collection a spotty affair. However, Bronski Beat and the Communards recorded some of the greatest pop music of the 1980s, making The Singles Collection worth owning for the hits alone. [In 2005 WEA International released Very Best of Jimmy Somerville: Bronski Beat and the Communards, which featured the same seventeen tracks as the Singles Collection, only in a different order.]

Product Details

Release Date: 03/19/1991
Label: Sire / London/Rhino
UPC: 0643443503624
catalogNumber: 35036

Album Credits

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews