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A classic 80s melodic record that gives an indication of the young Sabu's burgeoning talent.

Paul Sabu is one of those artists whose name once made AOR fans go queasy with excitement and invoked awe. The reason for this is his debut Only Child record in 1989, a near perfect collection of melodic rock tunes. 'Heartbreaker' which came out in 1985 is also well regarded but in recent years his star has dimmed somewhat. His terrific rock voice, similar at times to Sammy Hagar, has been replaced with a rougher, almost cookie monster delivery that has split his fan base. Personally, I still enjoy some of the more recent records like 'Strange Messiah' and 'Bangkok Rules' but I know I'm in the minority here. A shambolic performance at the Z-Rock festival last year further dented his reputation. However, this album dates back to 1984 when Sabu's star was rising.

The record had interesting origins. The album was originally released on a branch of Motown who were looking to cash in on the exploding rock boom of the early 80s. It's an album Sabu himself doesn't hold in high esteem, admitting in the liner notes that he didn't even listen to it when it came out. It's his loss as it shows his voice and ability to write killer hooks were already in place for the 22 year old. He won the contract for the record against stiff competition and the songs were judged by a panel before they made it onto the record.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Sabu's lack of love for the record is due the production of the disc and on this aspect he has a point. It's drenched in poppy keyboards that can get in the way of the songs, dating the material. If you can get past some of the keyboard excesses, there are some classic Sabu songs. 'Good Clean Fun' is the sound of the teenage American dream, copping a feel in your open top car with your high school sweetheart. 'Hellzarockin' and one of the two bonus tracks, 'Where There's Sex' sound like prime time Sammy Hagar. 'Susie Just Wants To Be A Star' is a pure melodic delight. 'Secrets' lets the side down as it's almost new wave, Police like, and is such a departure from Sabu's trademark sound that it sounds forced.

Despite the production quirks, this is a classic 80s melodic record that gives an indication of the young Sabu's burgeoning talent.

Duncan Jamieson

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