I am not going to take the mickey because it’s Right Said Fred. Here’s the facts: The first act since The Beatles to hit No.1 in America with their debut single, over 20 million records sold, No.1 in 32 countries and they gave me and a mate one of the best laughs of our lives one fine Saturday afternoon. They deserve respect. However after listening to their new long player, it appears they have lost their fun batteries.
A career built on camp eccentricity has given way to a lame attempt at serious artist credibility and there are only a few glimpses at their previous ability to have a laugh at themselves. That coupled with a very poor production has produced a sub-standard product that wishes to be mentioned in the same breath as The Kinks and the best singles band ever to come out of Britain, Madness.
We start with the title track Stop The World and you can see what they are trying to do in the Kinks/Madness stylee but it fails badly. “Stop the world I’ve had enough”, so have I, as the track morphs into Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ and ends with a refrain of ‘and I’m sleeping’. Yes you were when you agreed to use a Bontempi keyboard as a backing track, as with a little more effort this tune wouldn’t have been so bad. Madness prevail again on Julianne but the productions thin and only a nutty boys style video could save it. They need investment as it’s more like demo material and is as flat as young Julie’s pancakes, who apparently, is also his only weakness. More tea vicar?
The cheesy Raining In England is as obvious a song as ‘There’s Midges In Scotland’ but will probably be an xmas No.1 in one of the ex-pat colonies and goes all stadium rock at the end as you imagine old Dickie Fairbrass flying over the crowd at Wembley, whilst Obvious is pure filler with chorus guitars and sounds slightly like the very overrated Mary’s Prayer with a Hank Marvin sound-alike helping to provide every obvious cliché in the book.
However, Waiting For A Train sits much better and is a reminder of their old sense of humour, full of innuendo and very club friendly. This time the Hi-NRG production is spot on with echoes of Kraftwerk even! But it’s back to Cheddar gorge and plastic platitudes with I Ain’t Your Guy and seriously sounding too serious. Someone sounding like Mike Barson, appears to be playing the keys at the start of Trouble With Love but doesn’t enter the singles club the song ends up in. The lyrics are seriously dickey and Richard appears to have gone straight as he proclaims he’s a ‘karma chameleon and a sex machine’ who ‘needs a one night stand’. You are really bringing this on yourself.
Tomorrow’s Just Another Day is plagiarised next with We’re All Criminals, an attack on PC culture but it’s probably the best song on the album. It’s got a great chorus and Chrissy Boy is surely playing the solo but alas poor production prevails. When they do dance music, the production steps up and Happily Ever After goes all Balearic/La Isla Bonita but it won’t change your life. The brothers bald are seriously down in the dumps on Come Dancing and they must have left their thesaurus in the house as they sing ‘Let the music play, there’s nothing left to say’. Indeed. Word. Most def.
Feels Like Love feels like a 50s style piece from a cruise ship production where we could imagine the Baldinis donning Danny Zuko wigs and dancing with RaRa skirted cheerleaders. Maybe a nice costume change for the live show but also a contender for worst song on the album. The final cut is Two White Boys and initially this seems like proper Fred, as it’s lyrically obtuse at first, but segues into a chorus of ‘We sing about anything that makes us sing’. Goodness gracious. What it does do after wishing otherwise is finally nail the point that whatever mojo the Freddymen ever had has sadly gone.
Stop the world? It’s stopped.
Review by Captain Dhilin Kunderan