We Finally Listened To Kajagoogoo's "White Feathers" (A.K.A. "The Album With 'Too Shy' On It") And IT DIDN'T SUCK!

If you're "of a certain age", you grew up loving (or hating, there was no middle ground) those New Romantic bands that sprung up in the early '80s in the wake of punk's meteoric rise and fall.  There was Spandau Ballet, Visage, and a revamped Ultravox, but Duran Duran got all the press for being the first to crack America.  Whereas their peers failed to connect with the American mainstream, for a time, everything Duran Duran touched turned to gold.  And platinum.

That extended to their "outside projects", most notably Nick Rhodes producing the debut album by Kajagoogoo, who then enjoyed a MASSIVE hit with the song "Too Shy".  The band scored a few smaller hits, saw their instrumental "Kajagoogoo" used as the main theme for John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles", and then POOF!, they were gone.

The band parted ways with an unmanageable Limahl, whose ego was driving a edge between he and the band. Sure, his joining the band had immediately turned them from a band going nowhere to a band people actually cared about. He was also the one who'd bumped into Nick Rhodes and pitched his band to the megastar. Would any of this happened without him?

I admit "Too Shy" was a catchy bit of synth-pop fluff and, as a result, I saw no reason to investigate further. For years, this continued, even as I mined for synth acts of the era that I may have missed in one of my Spotify expeditions. Even now, I am unsure how the thought of Kajagoogoo entered my mind, but there I was listening to the album in its entirety.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.

In fact, if you're looking for one album that completely captures that classic synth-pop sound without actually being the songs we all know by heart, this is that album. Limahl bears an uncanny vocal resemblance to, well, everyone, but mostly Boy George and the synth-based musical backing is so "of the time" that it can border on comical at times. "Frayo" anybody? Still, as cheesy as that song may be, Limahl sings the SHIT out of it.

Remove "Too Shy" from the track listing and, surprisingly enough, you have a pretty durable album with at least two sure-fire tracks that would have been big hits if not dwarfed by the shadow of "Too Shy"'s universal success: "Ooh To Be Ah" and the instrumental "Kajagoogoo", which EMI failed to capitalize with the popularity of the movie "Sixteen Candles".

There is also a certain innocence to "This Car Is Fast", with such lines as "When life is slow and the pressure's on, just let down your hair".  Hey, it's no "I Can't Drive 55" but I can't imagine the dance floor not erupting to this song on "'80s night" at Dave & Buster's.

Is White Feathers a great album? No. Lyrically, it's puddle deep at best, but it's no better or worse than any other New Romantic album of the time.  One thing's for sure, it doesn't deserve the automatic derision it seems to have received for no other reason than "Too Shy" was all anyone cared about.  Funny how bands all dream of scoring that massive hit that makes them a household name, then when it happens, it hogties you.  Just ask Modern English or Tommy Tutone!

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