Tuesday, January 25, 2022

"Kiss" by Art of Noise with Tom Jones

Song#:  3736
Date:  12/03/1988
Debut:  80
Peak:  31
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Synthpop, Electronic

Pop Bits:  Although this UK outfit's 1987 album In No Sense? Nonsense! didn't perform as expected (#134 US), a single from the LP, "Dragnet," would be the used in the Dan Aykroyd/Tom Hanks comedy film of the same name and would win a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The award was a nice boost, but the group needed something that was going to get them back in the Top 10 in the UK and expand their audience in the US. Inspiration came when they was 60s/70s pop star Tom Jones do a version of Prince's #1 hit "Kiss" on TV. Jones had been including the cover tune in his shows and his performance inspired Art of Noise to get in contact to see if he would record the tune with them. Jones agreed and the track got recorded. Since it was a spur-of-the-moment one-off project, the tune wasn't going to be associated with a new album. So instead, a compilation of previously released songs was assembled along with "Kiss" and pushed out as The Best of the Art of Noise. "Kiss" would be released as a single and it would do well in the UK (#5) and several other countries. In the US, the results were mixed. It would become their highest peaking single at Pop, but it would stall short of the Top 30. It would also get to #18 at Dance and #14 Modern Rock. The album would then peak at #83. While it wasn't a major hit, the video did get some good attention on MTV and it helped folks rediscover Tom Jones. Art of Noise's next album, 1989's Below the Waist, fizzled upon release and the group split up in 1990. They would reunite for the 1999 concept LP The Seduction of Claude Debussy and would perform a few shows over the years.

ReduxReview:  While the pairing of Art of Noise along with Jones was a cool idea and enticing, the end result wasn't necessarily inspired. The song itself was a perfect vehicle for Jones' sexy, smarmy delivery, which is most likely why he had already been singing it in his shows. Adding in the Art of Noise should have made the tune odd and quirky, yet I thought their arrangement was just okay. There are certainly flairs of their synth-based sound and even a reference to their own remake of "Peter Gunn" included, but I was expecting something a bit more out-there and interesting along the lines of "Paranoimia." Overall, I think the final result was fun, it just didn't take the Prince classic to a new level. It kind of came off as a good cover tune that featured an unexpected blast-from-the-past singer.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Prior to recording "Kiss," Tom Jones had been performing in Las Vegas. He had spent a good part of the 80s recording country music. He had some success scoring nine Top 40 Country hits including his lone Top 10 "Touch Me (I'll Be Your Fool Once More)" (#4). Still, he wasn't as massively popular as he had been during his heydays in the late 60s and early 70s. In that time period, Jones earned 16 Pop Top 40 hits including 5 Top 10s (three of those were gold sellers). He would also have ten of his album go gold. His career cooled off in the 70s, but then his turn into country music in the 80s gave him a bit of a second wind. Regardless of chart success, Jones has always remained a top touring performer. "Kiss" with the Art of Nose eased him back into pop. He tried to capitalize on the moment with the album At This Moment, but it only got to #34 UK and failed to chart in the US. However, in 1999 Jones would record the biggest selling album of his career. Reload was a duets album that paired Jones with artist like Simply Red, The Cardigans, Portishead, The Pretenders, and Van Morrison. Three of the album's singles would hit the UK Top 10 including the #3 "Sex Bomb," featuring Mousse T. The hits would drive the LP to #1 in the UK and it would be a hit in many other countries as well. It would sell over 4 million copies worldwide. Oddly, the album wasn't released in the US. However, several tracks would later appear along with some of Jones' biggest hits on Reloaded: Greatest Hits, which was issued out in the US and would get to #127.


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