A long overdue reissue of synth-pop pioneers NAKED EYES’ 1983 debut album Burning Bridges that contains twelve tracks from the original album plus six bonus tracks. The bonus material features two 12″ versions of “Promises Promises”, including Jellybean’s extended version featuring his then unknown girlfriend MADONNA on backing vocals, Tony Mansfield’s American remix of “Always Something There To Remind Me”, the US 7″ remix of “Promises Promises” and two b-sides “Pit Stop” and “Sweet Poison”. The sleeve notes have been written by Michael Silvester who interviewed Pete Byrne about NAKED EYES and the CD booklet features many of the original sleeves and a full UK discography.
I remember my brother getting the 12″ single for “Always Something There To Remind Me” with the b-side “Pit Stop” and putting it on the turntable and in an instant, I was enthralled with this band. Both songs have stuck with me from that day and to finally hear this album in all its remastered glory and complete, truly heaven on earth. The remastering on this album is flawless, every note, every bleep from the synthesizers, every little sound is crisp and clear bringing out some textures that were previously buried. The album kicks off with “Voices In My Head” a song that should have been a hit with its incessant beat and catchy chorus, and then the slower paced “I Could Show You How” comes on with Pete Byrne’s vocals being mournful and yearning. “A Very Hard Act To Follow” is slow to start, gets faster and goes back and forth as the song goes on, but never grabbed me and although the vocals are smooth and the playing is well done, still isn’t a song that gets me going, but wait, then comes “Always Something There To Remind Me” with its tubular bell intro and huge hook that grabs you and takes you away. The vocals are incredible, possibly Byrne’s best performance and Rob Fisher’s playing just makes you sway and smile. The only reason that this was not massive back home was the fact that there was nothing like MTV around at the time and the people in North America did, and with the onslaught of 24 hour videos broke the band big time there with the song being a top ten hit. More songs that stand out are “Fortune and Fame”, “Burning Bridges”, “Emotion in Motion”, “Low Life”, and the last two songs on the original album. “When the Lights Go Out”, a song that did pretty well in America, but nothing back in the UK. The song had a great video and the playing was more laid back, but the hook grabs you along with the vocal performance that seems to have Byrne telling us a bedtime story with his subdued singing, and then finally “Promises, Promises” which did chart in the UK, but not very high and did really well in the US, with its non-stop beat that just makes you want to move to, and a super catchy chorus. The other songs, “Could Be” and “The Time Is Now” are good, but nothing that has stuck in my head or became one of those must hear songs to me. The bonus songs are great to have, especially hearing MADONNA back when she was just starting out and has a very sweet sounding voice on the remix with her sing-talking.
This has been a very anticipated release by a lot of people and yes, if you were there it will take you back to your youth. If you are young now, it sounds of the time that it came out in, 1983, but I wouldn’t want to change one thing about this album, well maybe one thing, Rob Fisher died on 25 August 1999, aged 39, following surgery will never know how much he was loved and how much this album means to a lot of people.
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