Kissing the Pink is one of the most unique bands I’ve had the pleasure to listen to. They’ve got a simultaneously appreciation both for new-wave and synth-pop together and with those two genres, you can only create wonders. At least if your name is just that. The band consisted of the members George Stewart (Keyboards/Vocals), Jon Kingsley Hall (Keyboards/Synthesizer/Vocals), Josephine Wells (Saxophone/Vocals), Nicholas Whitecross (Guitar/Vocals), Peter Barnett (Bass/Violin/Vocals) and Stevie Cusack (Drums/Percussion/Vocals). Even though Simon Aldridge also was in the band, he wasn’t involved with their first release, which is the one I’m covering. Their first release, “Naked“, was released in 1983 by Magnet Records and was mostly a synth-pop record. It had some features that could be pinpointed to new-wave and a range of different songs on the album, including different styles. Others whom were involved in the creation of their first record, when it comes to different aspect, where amongst others the producers Colin Thurston, David King, Neil Richmond, Peter Walsh and Kissing the Pink themselves. The cover was made by the now legendary UK design company Shoot That Tiger!. Do also remember that not all of them were producers in the sense, some of them were the engineers and mixers of the album, too. But they’re currently not attributed for it on Discogs. Find out more about this journey into their first album, down below.
According to an interview with Simon Aldridge, the name “Kissing the Pink” stems from this:
Where did the name ‘Kissing the Pink’ come from?
Simon: Real story is that it was a term used in snooker on a popular T.V. programme here called ‘Pot Black’: “…The cue ball is just kissing the pink…” but we liked to pretend we knew it was slang for oral sex! That was the main reason we had to change our name to ‘KTP’ in the U.S.A.
They have also published other excerpts from the interview on a site started by Jeff Grote. This is what George Stewart had to say about them recording the album “Naked” and “What Noise“:
I really like ‘Naked’ and ‘What Noise’, and I’m wondering if you could describe the studio recording atmosphere during those early days. For example, Kim has told me that you all worked at home in the dining room studio quite often, and then checked into ‘big studios’ for the recording. Were you comfortable with the studios, were you able to achieve the sound you were looking for, were the recordings made quickly?
George: No, it was absolute torture! Jon and I were talking about this recently, and we both realised that the trouble was we were spoiled by working with Martin Hannett before working with anybody else. He was such a genius that anybody we worked with after that was a bit of a let down – so in essence, what happened was, we would be expecting the same quality of fairy dust from the producers we were working with, and we weren’t getting it, so we felt we had to create it ourselves. Which, really, was a pain in the ass – we ought to have been free to actually write the damn stuff rather than trying to half-assedly produce it (although of course we did eventually learn a lot from trying). Generally, yes, we did write most of the stuff at home and then take it into a big studio.
Well, let’s move on from that. It’s pretty interesting to read some of the interview that was published with them a long time ago. Apparently, it seems like the site isn’t an official of KTP, but rather a fan club. You can read the whole interview over at their site. You should read it, it’s a good read and you get to know a lot more about KTP and what some of them they’re doing nowadays, amongst other things.
However, let’s move on to the record at hand. Their sinister and emotional use of both synth-pop and new-wave tend to go hand in hand with their unique material. One of the better songs on the album, according to me, is the seventh song “Big Man Restless“. It seems to be in line with some of the earlier Depeche Mode sound, but at the same time taking a whole other approach to it as a whole. Here some of the ingeniousness that was Kissing the Pink is displayed, especially in the chorus when the gorgeous back-up vocals sing the following, together, in total enthrallment: “the legal quarter of tight lipped man, push for order, and repeat again“. I simply get goosebumps whenever I hear it. If embodying them and some of their other influences together resulted in this, then I am forever grateful. But I think they had something other new-wave and synth-pop bands didn’t have. It’s a shame that this song is so overlooked, since some of their other songs seem to hit the number one each time you search for them on YouTube. Not that it has that many more views, but people seem to be more keen on “The Last Film“. I can understand that, though.
In the interview that was conducted with them, the member Simon Aldridge says the following about their influences:
Did you have musical influences or heroes? Lyrical influences?
Simon: Impossible to say as there were so many influences. Ranging from Messian, John Cage, Talking Heads, Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Kraftwerk, Human League, Durutti Column, Bach, etc etc etc.
Which takes us to another one of their songs. Before we head on to the song “The Last Film“, there is another one I want to talk about. The noticeable influences on the song “Frightened in France” seems to stem from Kraftwerk, which is interesting since it is stated as one of their influences. It might not only contain that, but I was thinking about the vocoder-voice which is predominantly effectual when appearing and disappearing, as is the back-up vocals which sing “uh-woah“. Also, the minimalist nature of the song is strong. There are some pauses that are being made before beats or anything are let in, as you let the message sink into your brain while listening to it. Pretty electronic if you ask me, or you should ask them why they say: “ca va?“. However, the whole song is absolutely something you could drop at a club just to sense the people’s reaction. It might actually be plausible still, since I believe it’s had pretty long longevity since the song still is playable and isn’t really a disgrace, to say the least. A great song all-in-all.
Another song that needs to be talked about is “The Last Film“, which seems to be the most popular one they’ve released. I think it’s a pretty quirky song and the video reminds me a lot of the Nutcracker. They’ve got some astonishing clothes on them and they’ve let Josephine Wells magnificent vocals take over part of the song. The drumming in the beginning reminds me a lot of the militarized sound that was more predominant in other styles and genres. Don’t really know if the lyrics themselves reveals anything about this particular subject, but this is some of what they’re singing: “their voice was sharp and oh so clear, and while they talk and grow thin, I thought of home my life was there, it was the last film I ever saw“. Doesn’t reveal much, even though it would be welcome to know the story behind why they wrote it this way. You should check out the video, because it’s certainly one of the best songs of that album alone. There are some other songs that are noteworthy, which I appreciate as much: “Love Lasts Forever“, “Maybe This Day” and “Broken Body“. Whenever you have the chance, get a hold of a copy and play it loud. This concludes My New Fascination, see you another day or see you in another time.