Monday, February 24, 2020

SPAZ reviews THE PINUPS!

THE PINUPS
THE PINUPS
(Renaissance Records)

The Pinups were a Pop concept that German producers Peter and Ingeborg Hauke created and unleashed upon the world in 1980. An early New Wave version of the ‘girl power’ movement, The Pinups featured four beautiful women singing Pop songs – mostly penned by gifted songwriter/musician Tony Carey – that were aimed straight for…  Well, that’s where things get a little confusing. Were they aimed at the charts? The clubs? The Rock crowd? The New Wave kids? The Europop lovers? Forty years on, it is hard to figure out just who The Pinups audience was supposed to be but it is safe to say that they could have found an audience had they been marketed correctly.

Similar to Pop outfits like The Flirts, The Pinups began as a studio project. The Hauks wanted to bring four beautiful American ladies together to perform catchy, keyboard-based Pop tunes. Inspired by the booming New Wave scene as well as ‘60s girl groups, The Pinups’ 1980 self-titled debut album was a fabulous collection of quirky songs that embraced Electropop with tunes like “Neon”, “New Wave Lover”, and “Girl Of Wood”. Like a mix of Kim Wilde and Lene Lovich, the debut hit all the right New Wave notes. The quartet even made a cheesy movie – titled NEW WAVE LOVER in the States – to capitalize on their catchy songs and gorgeous looks.


In 1981, the quartet returned with their sophomore album, HOLLYWOOD EYES. Oh, did I mention that The Pinups was now comprised of four NEW gorgeous ladies? Thankfully, the Hautes and Carey were still on board so there was still something that linked the new Pinups to their past incarnation. Oh, and did I mention that the musical direction changed as well? On this album, the hooks are still very much present but the quirkiness of the debut was replaced by a more commercial sheen. The songs on this album were aimed straight for the U.S. charts. However, the girls’ seductive image didn’t suit the songs’ slightly tougher AOR edge. These were melodies and arrangements that sounded closer to light Classic Rock than the catchy New Wave ditties of old. Carey offered up a set of great, radio-friendly tunes here – but they weren’t lightweight enough for Top 40. Sadly, they were too lightweight for FM radio, which really put this album in a category all by itself. Thankfully, the songs were all top-notch and perfect additions to a Pop music/Pinups fan’s collection, but once again, it was difficult for the album to find a wider audience.


In 1982, things got even more confusing for the average music collector when HOLLYWOOD EYES was repackaged for U.S. release and retitled THE PINUPS. While there were a few changes to the tracklisting – two songs from HOLLYWOOD EYES were dropped and replaced with “Angel” and a remix of “Girl Of Wood” – but essentially, it is the same album. While the band’s videos and TV performances made the four members look like Victoria Secret models at a frat party, they were way more talented than their marketing department led you to believe. Sadly, the album didn’t sell that well in the States and The Pinups ended up being just another band left to gather dust in the cut-out bins. On the plus side, the band’s music has been rediscovered over the years by new generations of fans. With great songs, great looks, and snappy production, The Pinups are now lovingly remembered for all the right reasons – they made great records!

Finally, most of the band’s recorded work has been gathered up on a new CD release called THE PINUPS, courtesy of Renaissance Records. The CD begins with the U.S. self-titled release from 1982 and then adds the two missing tracks from HOLLYWOOD EYES and almost everything from their 1980 debut – only “Intro – Showbusiness” and “There’s No Business” were left off this release. A wonderful Pop platter filled with catchy songs, this is proof that they may have marketed the band’s image incorrectly but the music always wins out in the end!

(NOTE: This release is mastered from vinyl).

Your pal,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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