Fine Young Cannibals (1985)
A lot of strong tracks on this for a neo-soul pop effort that attains nothing much in the way of what their predecessors threw up with the exception of Roland Gift, obviously. He sings with the usual love-longing pomp in lyrical content but his mouthy projection of the words make you feel like he means it, unlike the capitalist gunge of the day, or in fact this day.
The brass instrumentation is a little lacklustre in spots and Andy Cox’s guitar, ignoring subtle changes in tempo, is perpetually monotonous. Given this there’s a definite charm to this record with Gift’s entrapping cadence and the consistency of the flow throughout.
The cover of “Suspicious Minds” is a good one sticking to the original country guitar with soul merger and throbbing, unrelenting bass.
The Raw & the Cooked (1988)
They’re either too late to the synthpop scene or too early to the club scene of the early ’90s. Either way it’s cool – early retro or forward thinking. Not prevalent throughout, however, much of this album keeps to the roots of the debut but feels livelier with a catchier piano (thanks, Jools Holland), catchier guitar (thank God) and the integration of electronic beats (“I’m Not Satisfied” being the tastiest).
Displaying more versatility yet not belittling their so-called “soul” it’s difficult to find faults with their honest endeavours. I’m sure Gift is singing about something worthwhile or important but I couldn’t be arsed reading the lyrics to find out, and sometimes – maybe most of the time – that’s a good thing.
Their pop sensibilities suggest that they were destined for chart greatness past this number-one goody. Leaving us with this is fine as we’ve seen the guts of what they had, and I’m content with that.