Single Of The Week 12/12/96

Single Of The Week is where I review a single I'm particularly enamoured of at the moment. It might be a brand spanking new release, or a classic from decades past that I just feel like going on about.

Susanna Hoffs

This single is not exactly new even in Australia, but since it seems to have not really broken the solo career jinx of Susanna Hoffs, I guess it doesn't matter much. Hoffs, of course, was the most visible singer and songwriter in the Bangles, that epitome of LA girlie groupiedom whose best moment was probably their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's 'Hazy Shade Of Winter' but who tend to be remembered for 'Walk Like An Egyptian'.

One of the problems the Bangles experienced throughout their career was that while they wrote the majority of their own songs, the hits always tended to be written by others ('Going Down To Liverpool', 'Manic Monday', 'If She Knew What She Wants' as well as the aforementioned tracks). The two major exceptions to this rule, 'In Your Room' and 'Eternal Flame' (both from the band's final original album, Everything) were composed by Hoffs with professional LA songmeisters Tom Kelly and Bill Steinberg (Madonna's 'Like A Virgin', Heart's 'Alone', Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colours' and 'I Drove All Night', Pat Benatar's 'Sex As A Weapon'). The trio had already composed songs for Bette Midler and Belinda Carlisle before the dual-hit breakout. When the Bangles broke up in post-Everything acrimony, the combination of Hoffs/Steinberg/Kelly seemed a dead cert for MOR pop success.

It never happened. Hoff's first solo album, 1991's When You're A Boy, generated two very minor hits with 'My Side Of The Bed' and 'Unconditional Love' (both Steinberg/Kelly pieces), but megastardom never happened, and Sony dropped Hoffs from her contract. She went off, got married, and re-emerged with a London Records contract and this single (from an eponymous album) earlier this year.

Perhaps having learnt from those earlier experiences, 'All I Want' is a cover, this time of a Lightning Seeds number. It's quite appealing, and cracked the Top 40 in the UK, but stardom still seems a long way off (the contract doesn't even provide for a US release, apparently, and the album appears to have sunk). I was surprised when I heard it in my local Franklins the other day, but even that hasn't made it a hit.

As a four-track offering, it's good value too. The three extra tracks are 'These Days Are Gone' (Susanna collaborates with her producers), a cover of Donovan's 'Catch The Wind' and 'Anyone Else', co-composed with ex-Go Go Charlotte Caffey. Nice stuff all round but, given my lack of mainstream taste, unlikely to be a hit.

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