Monday, October 14, 2013

Nick Heyward - North of a Miracle

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of North of a Miracle, the solo debut of Haircut 100's former lead singer Nick Heyward. It reached number 178 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 10 in the UK.

Joining Heyward on the album were Pete Beachill (trombone), Stuart Brooks (trumpet and flugelhorn), Tony Marone (percussion and bongos), Dave Mattacks (drums), Pino Palladino (bass), Danny Schogger (keyboards and accordion), and Chris White (saxophone).

Side one begins, appropriately, with the up-beat "When It Started to Begin".

"Blue Hat for a Blue Day", the third single, hit number 14 in the UK. It tells how a guy falls for a sad girl and eventually makes her his wife.

"Two Make It True" sticks to the mid-tempo pacing. I like how the horns are used as subtle background accents, not at all overpowering. The same can be said for the percussion. They are all there to fully support Heyward’s smooth vocals.

The final single "On a Sunday" stopped at number 52 on the UK charts. It paints a picturesque image of a weekend walk to gather one’s thoughts while gathering sticks.

"Club Boy at Sea" looks at a shy, distant attraction.

Side two opens with "Whistle Down the Wind". As the lead single, it peaked at number 20 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and number 13 in the UK. I have always liked this mid-tempo tune with its light, piano accompaniment; when it comes on, I will sing along with the harmony on the chorus. It is pure pop music confection.

The second single "Take That Situation" went to number 11 in the UK. For me, this one definitely has more of a Haircut 100 feel to it.

"The Kick of Love" is a very jazzy piece, from the piano to the horns to the percussion.

"The Day It Rained Forever" is a dramatic number, in a very theatrical sort of way. With lushness to it musically, this one tells of the experience of total heartbreak.

"Atlantic Monday", the B-side to the first single, closes the original vinyl release out in a big way. The horns blare and the beat bounces.

I knew Nick Heyward from his earlier work with Haircut 100, but back in the day the only track from North of a Miracle that I was familiar with was the first single. The rest of the album was a totally new experience for me as of this review.

Had I heard this one back in 1983/1984, I definitely would have picked it up. It features that light, pure-pop sound that would have appealed to my youthful viewpoint. As an adult, I appreciate the complexities of the compositions and the polished of the production.


mls said...

One of my all time favorites. Thanks for featuring it.

My take on it is here:

Martin Maenza said...

Mike, thanks for reading and the comment. I will definitely check out your review as well!