❉ Students of 80s pop music will certainly find much to enjoy in this collection from an oft-overlooked recording star.
With the best will in the world, Sid Haywoode’s pop career hardly set the charts on fire –which is, all things considered, a terrible shame; her soulful voice is easily the equal of her contemporaries, and her CBS album ‘Arrival’ is an impressive collection of slick, funky dance tracks of which any artist of the era would be proud.
Sadly, though, despite success on the dance charts, mainstream success proved elusive until Roses hit number 11 on the UK charts in 1986. This however, proved only a blip, and so Haywoode has remained something of a footnote in pop history, albeit a well-regarded one. ‘Arrival’ itself received the Cherry Pop deluxe treatment in 2016, and now ‘Roses’ collects together the remaining tracks from the CBS vaults for our consideration.
Admittedly for some of the unreleased material it’s clear why those tracks didn’t cut it at the time. Divided Love and Play with Boys are hardly the best showcase for Haywoode’s talents, both being somewhat slight both musically and lyrically.
Better, though, are some of the B-sides. My Kind of Hero is a pleasant, yearning little number and Slow Burn is far from offensive. An absolute stand-out of the collection, however, is Motown-esque self-penned Take Me Up to Heaven which proves to be a confident, swaggering, brassy track that really gets under the skin. In this collection we’re offered both 7” and 12” versions of all these songs – which in the case of Take Me Up to Heaven is a treat indeed.
CBS clearly worked hard on breaking Haywoode; her production credits read like a who’s-who of the 80s dance scene – so there’s a certain inevitability she’d be in studio with Stock, Aitken and Waterman (SAW) at some point. Regardless of whether you were enthralled or appalled by their chart dominance in the late 80s, it’s easy to forget that for years they were a hip underground production team, and their sessions with Haywoode yielded two stylish, soulful tracks: You’d Better Not Fool Around and Getting Closer, both far removed from the bubble-gum reputation with which the “Hit Factory” would later be saddled.
Here we are offered an “original mix” of You’d Better Not Fool Around which is, inevitably, less polished than the final one and demonstrates exactly why a remix was considered necessary. Thankfully the buoyant synth-riffs added later get their chance to shine in the instrumental mix also included on this release. Getting Closer however, barely features – only appearing as part of a DMC UK megamix – which is odd considering how much emphasis the press release places on the fact that Kylie herself would later cover the song.
This comes across an especially disingenuous marketing ploy since the Kylie version is pretty awful – a sludgy failure to ape the SAW style without asking them to actually produce it. Haywoode’s version of Getting Closer, therefore, remains definitive, so it’s a shame there aren’t more versions lurking around in the vaults to parade for us here.
The most problematic inclusion on these CDs is the cover of the James and Bobby Purify classic I’m Your Puppet. Here we have not only the released single and extended versions but an unreleased remix, the vocals on all of which are impeccable and the production values stellar. It’s just unfortunate that – given the lyric – a female singer lends it uncomfortable connotations in the days of the #metoo movement, despite the obvious class and integrity of the recording.
Obviously, the main hit singles are strongly represented, with an inevitable element of repetition when you hear so many versions of the same track, but the Nick Martinelli mixes of A Time Like This stand out in particular. Roses of course features strongly; Haywoode’s personal favourite mix – the Michael Barbiero 12”– kicks off the album, but it’s the inaccurately named “US” remixes that shine the most. They and the Take Me Up to Heaven mixes are the ones on the collection most inclined to have this reviewer dancing around the living room in a joyous 80s fangasm.
As is to be expected, Cherry Pop have once again produced a set with much to interest the listener, but as this is an original release they have been able to be similarly original with the artwork: the vaguely wan 80s cover of ‘Arrival’ pales into insignificance when you look at the gorgeous cover of this release. The interior of the booklet also maintains the label’s usual standard and Haywoode’s comments on the tracks are by turns infectiously enthusiastic, self-deprecating and – in the case of I’m Your Puppet – somewhat sobering.
For this SAW fan, though, the real revelation is what her favourite track of theirs is. As a result, this writer is currently inclined to petition for her to commit that song to studio right away, as she would – undoubtedly – storm it.
All in all, ‘Roses’ is an excellent companion piece to the ’Arrival’ reissue – and arguably contains several superior versions of the tracks presented there. Students of 80s pop music will certainly find much to enjoy, and – while she may not have had the success she deserved at the time – her legacy has now been preserved in amber.
As she goes back into the studio with Energise Records, Sid Haywoode can be certain that what has been released in ‘Roses’ is an impressive demonstration of her talents.
❉ Haywoode: Roses – Remixes & Rarities is released March 30, 2018, by Cherry Pop, RRP £10.95. Click here to order.