Album review: WORLD GOES ROUND – S/T

WORLD GOES ROUND - World Goes Around

Viper Records [Release date 22.01.21]

It was 30 years ago today that World Goes Round recorded their one and only album (Ed: we might be a year or two out). This supremely talented array of artists, whose names (almost) always fell below the fold, are unarguably the adult pop genre’s most famous unknown band.

Individually and collectively, Frank Musker, Elizabeth Lamers, Jeff Hull and Marty Walsh wrote hit songs for a multitude of acts, including high profile artists like Heart, Susannah Hoffs, Queen, Cher and Eric Clapton.

Together with producer Tommy Vicari (Prince, Jeffrey Osborne, Philip Bailey, Billy Preston and many others) they recorded this album and went their separate ways. It’s now been dusted down and polished up.

It’s unquestionably born of time and place. And is the sound that came to define the second half of the eighties. It was a modern, new wave influenced, blue eyed soul album with a distinctive pop flavouring.

Vicari keeps the arrangements deceptively simple, giving the music an all round accessibility and space between. By the end of ‘Rebel Heart’ and ‘Joy& Pain’, we’re already knee deep in synthesisers and drum machines. It sounded like the future in 1989. By ‘Put It On The Line’, we’re adjusting. The song’s soulfully sleek programming, punctuated by the funky, syncopated guitar style of Nile Rodgers, is a perfect fit for this album.

Vicari’s production is crystal clear, 3 dimensional, you can hear the words, every one. And despite its provenance, it doesn’t sound sterile. Vicari works the programming consoles like a Simon Rattle at the rostrum, expertly wielding the baton, creating a rich panoply of sounds.And the music is full of little love stories (the Bangles-ish ‘Once Around The Sun’ is a peach), threaded with visionary pieces like ‘Big House’ that warn us of Global Warming. No decade should be without its socially aware pop songs, it would seem.

By the mournful ‘Please Please’ and the Mr Mister lookalike, ‘Puttin Down Roots’, we’re fully tuned in, and being later turned on by the compact sophistication of the rhythmically intricate ballad ‘Can’t let Go’, and the upbeat AOR of ‘Round The World’, an outlier that recalls the commercial nous of Jefferson Starship.

To quote a cliché, this album is a blast from the past. And un-cliche-like, it succeeds in reminding us just how stylish and innovative the past could be. ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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