Kajagoogoo….On This Day in History IV
Once again, we return to our series of anniversary posts, which today celebrates the release of what is for many Kajagoogoo’s finest album, ‘Islands’.
Islands was unleashed on UK audiences in May 1984 and like its predecessor, White Feathers, was produced by the legendary Colin Thurston. For its background, we must rewind to the August of 1983 and the end of the White Feathers tour. EMI Records, having seen White Feathers sell in such huge numbers globally, were eager to capitalise on the successes of their latest super group and press on with new material . Prospective sales for the next single and album were expected to be massive. The band had been to New York at a time when rifts had started to occur between its members – Limahl had written Kajagoogoo’s next potential single, Only for Love, whilst the ‘Kaja’ boys favoured their song, Big Apple. With hindsight, both tracks could have existed as massive singles for Kajagoogoo and combined to form part of a mega second album. The reality is that neither camp wanted to record each other’s songs and as we all know, human nature took its natural course.
The album progressed from teaser single, Big Apple, to the sublime ‘On a Plane’ – the second track to be completed, also in 1983. With a conscious approach towards a new, more mature sound, Islands was bigger and jazzier than the band’s debut, incorporating a brass section which in itself was strikingly different to White Feathers. The album was recorded during the period of the band’s history that didn’t include Limahl, thus allowing Nick to reinstate his position as vocalist, resetting the dynamic of the band back to its Art Nouveau days. Many of the tracks on the album were dreamed up in rehearsal and written in the recording studio. It didn’t go unnoticed by both fans and the music press alike that the lyrics written by Nick during this period of his life were heavily influenced by the religious path he was in the process of finding. As well as the brass section (Guy Barker and Phil Todd) the Kaja’s were also joined on the other side of the mixing desk by Colin Thurston who provided backing vocals as well as wearing his producers hat on the business end of the buttons and sliders.
Also important in the albums development was Stuart, or to be more precise, what he achieved with his newly acquired technology. The PPG Wave Term System is as influential a sound on the album as its other debutante, Nick’s Chapman Stick. The Lion’s Mouth was the first Kajagoogoo song recorded that featured the instrument.
Spread over three studios and mixed at George Martin’s Air facilities, the album was a defining moment in the band’s history, as it superseded the sounds inherent on White Feathers to give the group a bite at grown-up, music press credibility.
The record was issued as a cassette, album, picture disc album and in much later as a compact disc.
Islands was, like its forerunner, taken out on the road, and the accompanying tour was huge. The band played the UK, Japan, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Germany & Holland, as well as venturing into the then forbidden territory of Eastern Europe.
Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Russia all invited Kajagoogoo to play live.
Islands is also notable for the inner sleeve artwork – a sculpture provided by Japan’s bass player, the late Mick Karn, entitled ‘The Mask of Confidence’.
In America, Islands became ‘Extra Play’ and peaked at a mere #185 on the Billboard Album Chart. With additional remix work by Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero, the American sales figures were redeemed somewhat by the stellar performance of the single Turn Your Back on Me which hit the #2 spot on the Billboard Dance Chart.
The album made its debut in the UK album chart on 2nd June 1984.
We hope that you enjoyed today’s article! Here’s a track from the Islands tour recorded on the UK leg in 1984…. ‘The Power to Forgive’