Album review: LAURA BRANIGAN – Self Control


Cherry Red Records [Release date 05.06.20]

In other circumstances, it would have been reported that Branigan’s untimely death in 2004, aged 52, brought a sparkling, hit filled career to a tragic end. But in fact, while that was true, she’d already left the music world behind. Ten years earlier, she retired to look after her terminally ill husband, who ultimately died in 2001.

Branigan had begun her professional career as a backing singer for the late Leonard Cohen, the man who put poetry and literature into popular music culture. So her subsequent solo immersion in the world of post-disco dance pop was something of a surprise.

“Self Control” was her fourth album, released in 1984, smack in the middle of the MTV age. It charted all over the world and went platinum in the USA. Singles ‘Self Control’, ‘Ti Amo’ and ‘The Lucky One’ were all huge Billboard Top 100 hits, staking out a significant claim for Branigan as the pre-eminent Dance Pop/rock diva, as much as any other serious contenders at the time, including Kim Carnes and Paula Abdul. And apart from those hits, the album was rich in high calibre songwriting. Mark Spiro, Diane Warren and Steve Kipner all contributed. No wonder it was her most successful recording.

This 2 CD set has been carefully curated by the fast-becoming-industry-standard Reissue label, Cherry Red Records. CD1 is the original album. CD2 contains a plethora of extended edits and dance remixes.

Most notably, the extended remix of ‘Self Control’ straddles the blurry line between dance and pop, sitting comfortably next door to the dreamy, shuffling rhythms of the breathy ‘Summer Mix’ of the same song. The Desmond Child songwriting soundalike, and synth/rock dance floor filler, ‘The Lucky One’ gets the expert treatment from dance/rock maestro/ producer/ arranger Harold Faltermeyer, and later is pumped up by John Robie’s wild imagination on a serously extended edit. (Robie was Arthur Baker’s right hand man during their many eighties’ electronica triumphs).

Anyone who wants to ease themselves out of lockdown, by reliving their eighties’ dance/pop experiences, can start right here.

Review by Brian McGowan

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