Album review: BERLIN – Transcendance

BERLIN - Transcendance

Cleopatra Records [Release date 16.08.19]

OK, hands up who can name a Berlin number other than ‘Take My Breath Away’?  I certainly can’t, and I used to have a vinyl copy of their 1984 album Love Life.  But to be honest, the sleeve artwork was more exciting than what lay within.

Of course the placement of ‘Take My Breath Away’ in Top Gun was what did for the band – a number they simply couldn’t escape and not atypical of their wider material, having been written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock specifically for the film.

And after Count Three A Pray (1986) failed to take the public’s breath away, the band imploded, most heading largely for 9-5 jobs, and with Nunn taking the band name with her.

The three releases since, the most recent being Animal (2013), have effectively been Nunn solo albums, but Transcendance sees co-founders John Crawford (bass) and David Diamond (keyboards) re-join the fold.

And as a 40th Anniversary tour (with The B-52′s) approaches, Transcendence doesn’t disappoint – packed to the brim with bass and synth laden New Wave beats, fabulous melodies, sumptuous hooks, and Nunn’s sexually charged vocals.

It may only run to 10 tracks over 37 minutes, but Transcendance is one of those rare beasts – an almost perfectly crafted piece of classic ‘pop’.  ‘Rock’ maybe not so much, but with singer Terri Nunn (still looking ‘hot’ despite being a Mum of 5, and only a few years away from 60), giving the performance of her career, it’s intoxicating.  In the Eighties, it would have yielded at least 4 guaranteed Top Ten hits.

And with a renewed interest in that decade, as evidenced by Trevor Horn currently touring his recent Trevor Horn Re-imagines The Eighties album, the timing is perfect.  In fact, with its lush strings and brass, ‘All For Love’ – an absolute ‘pearler’ – would fit right into Tricky Trev’s current set list.

‘Majesty’ and ‘No One Left Alive’ are two of the most gorgeous ballads you’ll hear this year, or any other, with Nunn’s vocals dripping in pheromones.  The sultry vibes of ‘On My Knees’ caress the senses, and ‘Lust’ should be x-rated.

The title track, for some inexplicable reason, brings hints of Ann-Marie Helder/ Panic Room (‘Chameleon’?) to mind, and ‘Show Me Tonight’ is an infectious throwback mash in the style of The Tubes’ ‘What Do You Want From Life’ and Madonna.  There’s even an excellent re-working of the band’s 1982 breakthrough single Sex (I’m A…) which was written by Crawford, Diamond and Nunn.

Frankly, Berlin long players weren’t even close to being this consistent in the Eighties, and Nunn has never sounded better.  Who’d have seen this coming?  Finally, the ghost of ‘Take Your Breath Away’ is laid to rest.  *****

Review by Pete Whalley

UK tour dates:

NOVEMBER 2019

22 London Islington Academy
24 Milton Keynes Crauford Arms
26 Newcastle Riverside
27 Chester Live Rooms
28 Southampton 1865
30 UK Bognor Regis Electric Dreams

DECEMBER 2019

1 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
2 Wolverhampton Robin 2
4 Brighton The Haunt


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