Saturday , February 24 2024

Music Review: Haywoode – ‘Roses: Remixes & Rarities’

Almost a decade after reissuing her sought-after 1985 pop-dance gem-of-an-LP Arrival, England’s Cherry Pop has dug surprisingly further into the vaults to unearth a two-disc collection of vocalist Sid Haywoode’s 1980s recordings for CBS UK. Twenty-nine tracks in depth, Roses: Remixes & Rarities assembles a pleasing array of long out-of-print 12” mixes of her hits, B-sides, and several unreleased tracks. Only one significant catalog entry (“Getting Closer”) is absent—though it is included as part of “The Haywoode Mega-Mix”—and the track sequencing and selection is, in all, long-lasting, flavorful ear candy comprised of insinuating grooves, feel-good melodies, and rosily soulful vocals.

The title song, Haywoode’s biggest international hit to date, was released several times in the mid-‘80s before becoming a bona fide chart success. Accordingly, it’s included here in four mixes, amongst them the zesty, guitar-lined “Extended US Remix” and Michael Barbiero’s captivatingly percussive 12” mix. The highly memorable tune’s follow-up, “I Can’t Let You Go,” is also represented four times, most importantly in the remarkable “Detroit Extended” and “Detroit Dub” mixes. The late Duane Bradley and Bruce Nazarian worked an inescapable magic with their full-bodied, brassy restructuring of the catchy number’s original mold, changing it from a pleasant radio tune to a kinetically charged, vibrantly arranged anthem full of heart and passion.

“A Time Like This,” Haywoode’s 1983 debut single, is the third entry to pop up in four variations, the most satiating being producers Lynton Naiff and Mike Myers’ second remix. Bringing out the funky synth bass line of the celestial modern soul number more prominently than on the original mix, they also tinkered with keyboard and guitar elements of the soundscape which meld well with the earnest lead vocals. Billy Ocean provided assuaging backing vox on this track, as well as on the percolating “Slow Burn,” one of a handful of B-sides on Roses which is every bit as effective as its respective flip. Brimming with intoxicating synth wizardry and electric phrasing, the cut also proves an ideal showcase for Haywoode’s subtle blend of finesse and zing.

On the slower side of the rhythmic pendulum, Haywoode shows a marked sensitivity in both interpretation and songwriting prowess. The innate yearning of her words and tones shines through on the emotive B-side “My Kind of Hero,” included in both 7” and 12” versions. Her respect for classic balladry, meanwhile, is exemplified on an understatedly charming 1987 take on James & Bobby Purify’s “I’m Your Puppet” (featured three times, including a previously unreleased remix). A couple of originals which didn’t make the cut back in the day finally surface here: “Divided Love,” an atmospheric groover with a new wave-ish chorus and funky backdrop, and “Play with Boys,” a simple ditty with fun lyrics. The former registers rhythmically and melodically almost instantly. The latter is interesting in its subtlety, but hard to compare to the feistier version released by Alisha several years later.

Fans who came to know Haywoode through her association with the production team of Stock-Aitken-Waterman will relish the hard-to-find original version of “You’d Better Not Fool Around,” as well as the instrumental of the more popular remix version. The original brings out a bit more of the sultry vocal aspects, as it’s not adorned with as many programming accoutrements. The remix instrumental provides a good excuse for some karaoke (as does the vocal-less mix of “I Can’t Let You Go”). These two entries, along the with the previously mentioned mega-mix (which also contains the otherwise absent “Single Handed”) are a nice way to cap off a thoroughly enjoyable set that will make for hours of enjoyment amongst listeners who appreciate soulful dance music with quality hooks and engaging vocals.

About Justin Kantor

Justin Kantor is a music journalist with a passion for in-depth artist interviews and reviews. Most of his interviews for Blogcritics can be heard on his Blog Talk Radio program, "Rhythmic Talk." Justin's work has been published in Wax Poetics, The All-Music Guide, and A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Music Business and Management program, he honed his writing chops as a teenager—publishing "The Hip Key" magazine from 1992-1996. The publication, which was created out of his childhood home in Virginia Beach, reached a circulation of 10,000 by the time he was 16. At Berklee, Justin continued to perfect his craft with a series of 'Underrated Soul' features for The Groove from 1997-2003. This led to a companion TV show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network in 2002, as well as writing for the national Dance Music Authority (DMA). A self-described "obscure pop, dance, and R&B junkie," Justin also has penned liner notes for reissue labels such as Edsel Records and FunkyTownGrooves. He's excited to be a part of the BlogCritics team and indulge his musical fancies even further. Connect with him at his Facebook page, or via [email protected].

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