T'Pau - The Virgin Anthology

T’Pau: “The Virgin Anthology”

Until very recently, T’Pau’s back catalogue was in a pretty sorry state. Their three principal albums lay neglected, unremastered and unadorned with bonus tracks, while a couple of uninspired best-of albums jostled for position on Spotify with a dozen live albums of dubious origin. The situation began to improve with 2015’s deluxe edition of the band’s début Bridge of Spies, which brought together all the album’s accompanying B-sides, single versions and remixes; now the remainder of the band’s Virgin output has been gathered together into a mammoth 4CD box.

Having already had two CDs to itself, naturally Bridge of Spies doesn’t appear as part of this new set, although it still makes its presence felt: six tracks from the album open disc one, the band’s first singles compilation to include all the hits in their proper 7″ versions, including the live recording of Sex Talk and North American single edits of Bridge of Spies and Only a Heartbeat. There are more foreign mixes on disc two, including three highly sought-after remixes from the Canadian version of second album Rage, plus 12″ mixes and six previously unreleased demo recordings.

The remaining two CDs see the band’s second and third albums remastered and fleshed out with single B-sides. 1988’s Rage reunites T’Pau with Bridge of Spies producer Roy Thomas Baker in pursuit of more of the same, but pushes the bombast levels even further into the red; it works, to some extent, on uptempo rockers like Running Away and Secret Garden but stifles any trace of subtlety in Heaven and Road To Our Dream. After a three year gap, The Promise was released in 1991 at the height of the indie-dance craze, and strangely it’s the tracks that acknowledge this (Soul Destruction, One Direction) that stand out over more traditional fare, although Whenever You Need Me is a spirited attempt to meet somewhere in the middle, and the exuberant title track is something of a lost gem.

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Also boasting a hefty booklet and in depth interview with Carol Decker, The Virgin Anthology shines new light on an often overlooked period of the band’s career. A standalone release of disc one would be welcome as a proper single disc hits package for the casual buyer, but for the T’Pau obsessive who’s spent decades trying to track down all the various permutations of their releases, this is a godsend. It’s just a shame it took so long!

8/10