Album review

Paul Hardcastle

Paul Hardcastle has a greatest hits. Really. No, really.

For those of you under the age of 30, Paul Hardcastle was a pioneer of the electro sound in the mid-80s, later becoming a jazz artist. In 85 to 86, he had two hits in the UK top 40, not including his number 1 smash, ’19’, a track about America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and the effect in had on the returning soldiers.
For those of you who can’t remember that one, it goes “ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-nineteen.” It features a drum machine beat similar to the ones used by every electro shoulder-padded outfit in the mid-80s from Depeche Mode to Tears for Fears, and synthy piano strikes – again, another staple of mid-80s elctro, but the thing that separates this track from the others in the charts of the time was samples from a documentary on Vietnam vets interspersed with harmonized female vocals singing about destruction, and repeating the word “ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-nineteen,” which the song tells us was the average age of an American soldier in the Vietnam War. And while informative, it has nothing to move someone.
But I suppose it is nice to have a nostalgic look back every once and a while and see what begat sounds that Hot Chip seem to do more with.

The double album contains 30 tracks, two of which are different versions of ’19’; all of which sound pretty similar to ‘19.’

There is an episode of Friends where the tall friend, Ross, plays the keyboard for the other friends. The sound he produces is similar to what I heard on this record, and while I am no fan of Friends, I personally would consider watching it a better use of my time. But as for everyone else, how you feel about a greatest hits collection depends on how you feel about the artist it has collected from. For fans of Hardcastle: you two will love it. For everyone else: maybe give it a miss.