Edsel has long been championing the recordings of Kiki Dee, including two definitive box sets chronicling The Fontana and Motown Years and The Rocket Years. It's the latter chapter to which the label has recently returned on a reissue of the British singer's second album, I've Got the Music in Me. Originally released on Elton John's Rocket Records in 1974, the LP yielded a top twenty pop hit on both sides of the Atlantic. What sets this 2-CD expanded edition apart is both the content - it adds four previously unreleased 1983 remixes from Phil Harding of PWL fame - and the deluxe packaging, which is in the oversized, 10-inch style rarely seen outside of Japan.
Elton and engineer Clive Franks helmed Kiki's 1973 Rocket debut Loving and Free, but the global superstar turned over the reins on I've Got the Music in Me to his longtime collaborator Gus Dudgeon. Clive Franks, a longtime member of Elton's musical family who also worked on albums from lyricist Bernie Taupin and drummer Nigel Olsson, remained on board to work with Dudgeon. Recorded in London with vocals added in New York, the album was credited to The Kiki Dee Band line-up of keyboardist Bias Boshell, bassist Phil Curtis, drummer Roger Pope, and guitarist Jo Partridge. Boshell penned the electrifying title track on which the Band was joined by Pete Clarke on drums and the backing trio of Cissy Houston, Joshie Jo Armstead, and Maretha Stewart; Richard Hewson provided the orchestral arrangement. An exultant anthem to positivity, "I've Got the Music in Me" scored Dee a No. 12 U.S. hit and fared almost as well at home in the U.K. at No. 19; it set the upbeat tone for an album of songs entirely written by band members Dee, Boshell, and Partridge. I've Got the Music in Me subtly took Dee in a more commercial soft rock direction, losing most of the country-esque trappings of Tumbleweed Connection-era Elton John while still showcasing her exquisite pipes in an increasingly confident, ever-soulful setting. Dee's deep soul was evident from her earliest days, and in 1970, she notably became the first white British artist to be signed by Berry Gordy's Motown Records.
Dee, who had been encouraged as a songwriter by her friend Elton, continued to grow with songs like the wistful, reflective "[You Might Have Been] Someone to Me" and the moody "Water." In a bit of a departure from usual romantic themes, the latter ode finds Dee praying to the "water in the ocean" to "take away the pain and save the day." Boshell, of the folk-rock band Trees and later of Barclay James Harvest and The Moody Blues, penned four tracks in addition to the title song; the upbeat rock of "Step by Step," the earthy "Do It Right," and the driving "You Need Help" are among his other highlights here.
The original album sequence is presented on the first disc of Edsel's reissue, while the second disc offers five non-LP single sides from 1974-1975: the Elton-and-Bernie-penned "Hard Luck Story" b/w Kiki's "Everyone Should Have Their Way;" the "I've Got the Music in Me" flipside "Simple Melody;" a re-recording of Larry Harrison and Jimmy Williams' "How Glad I Am" (which Kiki last recorded at Fontana in 1964 based on Nancy Wilson's hit version the same year) b/w her own "Peter." The disc is rounded out with the previously unheard Phil Harding remixes including a club-ready, super-charged extended version on which everything is turned up to ten; two dub mixes; and his mix of the original backing track. (The short promotional edit of "I've Got the Music in Me" isn't included.)
The 10-inch packaging is one of the main attractions here. Though there are no liner notes here, the eight-page booklet contains full credits and lyrics for each track. Scans of the original Apple Studios tape boxes are also presented on the endpapers, while the two discs are housed in slots on the inner front and back cover. There are no mastering credits, but sound is comparable to Edsel's past presentations which were mastered by Phil Kinrade (with acknowledgments to Ted Carfrae's 2008 masters).
Kiki Dee recently shared a splashy moment with her friend Sir Elton when he invited her to reprise their chart-topping 1976 duet of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium for his final U.S. concert. The show, which was televised by Disney+, found their rapport undiminished as they traded off vocals in front of over 50,000 fans in the stadium and countless others in the home audience. She remains one of music's most underrated vocalists, and the new I've Got the Music in Me is a timely reminder of that stature.
- I've Got the Music in Me
- Someone to Me
- Step by Step
- Out of My Head
- Do It Right
- Little Frozen One
- Heart and Soul
- You Need Help
- Hard Luck Story (Rocket single PIG 10-A, 1974)
- Everyone Should Have Their Way (Rocket single PIG 10-B, 1974)
- Simple Melody - The Kiki Dee Band (Rocket single PIG 12-B, 1974)
- How Glad I Am (Rocket single PIG 16-A, 1975)
- Peter (Rocket single PIG 16-B, 1975)
Previously Unreleased Phil Harding Remixes (1983)
- I've Got the Music in Me (Extended Mix)
- I've Got the Music in Me (Extended Dub Mix)
- I've Got the Music in Me (Backing Track)
- I've Got the Music in Me (Alternate Dub Mix)