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Jun 12

TAKE THAT ft LULU – “Relight My Fire”

Popular36 comments • 2,994 views

#696, 9th October 1993

With “Pray” I made the case for Take That being – visually at any rate – something new in British pop. But they could do tradition, too – “Relight My Fire”, a confident consolidation of their stardom, put down careful markers on two different strands of pop heritage.

One was Brit-pop as light entertainment. Guest vocalist Lulu had the lungs for the job – she needed to, replacing a Loleatta Holloway vocal – but she also had the pedigree to sell Take That as a family act, pecs’n’kecks notwithstanding. Barlow’s songwriting was already doing the job of making his group cuddly – now here was a much-loved face from olden days to back that up. (At the time I only had a very fuzzy grasp on why Lulu was famous and I doubt I was alone in this.)

The other pop tradition was disco. Britain never tried to stuff the disco genie back into the bottle in the way America had – no heaps of burning disco records in, say, Cardiff Arms Park – and the music was uncool mostly in the way that everything 70s was. Until, all of a sudden, it wasn’t: Take That were far from the last pop act to put down roots with a disco cover – it was as accepted a move for 90s boy and girl groups as R&B covers had been for the Beatles’ generation. If anything, the mainstream disco revival ran slightly ahead of the hip version – it wasn’t until 1995 that the much-respected Mastercuts series got around to a Classic Disco Mastercuts, compiled by Dave Lee, AKA Joey Negro, who’d produced “Relight My Fire” for Take That.

Lee’s compilation led off with the original Dan Hartman “Relight”, reunited with its magnificent cosmic-dancefloor intro “Vertigo”. Hartman’s track was never a hit here, so perhaps Lee – having helped cement Take That’s version in people’s minds – wanted to remind them of the original. Which – and this is unfortunate for the boys – is a great deal better. Take That’s record is fine, though, very enjoyable – but though Lulu does her best all the enjoyment is from the song, not the performance. Most disco cover versions by pop bands lack vocal chops, but more, they lack urgency – any sense that something is at stake, that these three, four or nine minutes are the singer’s only chance to get a feeling over, rather than one of many opportunities to put on some glitter and a wig. “Relight My Fire” was a great record – this has no ambition beyond being quite a good one.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    punctum on 11 Jun 2012 #

    I think we should talk about Popular entries when we get to them, in order to prevent discussion on upcoming number ones starting too early.

  2. 27
    Jimmy the Swede on 11 Jun 2012 #

    I do wish that St Etts would release “Popular” as a single and that it topped the chart. That would make the entry we already have on the site the most Bunny-abused act in the history of the world. The Nabob of the Scene would no doubt claim sanctuary because he would say he included “Popular” in good faith and as a heartfelt thanks to Bob, Sarah and Pete. And I for one would agree. But Bunny, who feasts on cider apples and gets angry very quickly, may not see it that way.

  3. 28
    punctum on 11 Jun 2012 #

    If they did release it as a single, however, it would scoot straight in at #123 and straight out again.

  4. 29
    JimD on 12 Jun 2012 #

    Bit of gossip from Barlow’s autobiography:

    “The plan for Relight My Fire was that Rob would sing lead vocals as his follow-up to Could It Be Magic. Rob was in the studio for two nights but he just couldn’t get his vocals right, so on the third day Nigel called me and said ‘Can you go to the studio tonight and sing it so Rob can copy your vocals?’

    I did and everyone loved the voice I found. Nigel, who wasn’t big on compliments, said, ‘Where did you pull that from? It’s one of the best you’ve ever done.’

    ‘I dunno, I just did it.’

    So that’s how I ended up on what was supposed to be Rob’s song.”

  5. 30
    Jimmy the Swede on 16 Jun 2012 #

    So Gary only lands a derisory OBE. Was it worth all the trouble, lad?!

  6. 31
    Erithian on 5 Nov 2012 #

    So we have a fourth member of the RTNOSFIP club. Strewth, Robbie’s back! (With a helping hand from Gaz of course.)

  7. 32
    wichitalineman on 25 Jun 2013 #

    Lulu has just announced her first UK gig in years at Stamford Bridge on October 4th. I love her dearly, but her press release is so ‘creative’ I can’t resist sticking it up here. Every line is sort of true but, um, not really:

    “It was the sixties when Lulu first burst onto the scene at the tender age of 15 with the mega, definitive and enduring Shout. Since then she has topped the charts in every decade, working over the years with some of the greatest talents of our time – from Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and The Beatles to Elton John, David Bowie and Paul McCartney. Also an accomplished actress, her film debut was in the cult classic To Sir With Love, breaking hearts all over the world with her plaintive rendition of the title song.

    When Lulu turned her hand to writing, her song I Don’t Wanna Fight became a world-wide number one for Tina Turner and was nominated for both Grammy and Ivor Novello Awards. And who can forget the high-energy duet with Take That, lifting Relight My Fire to new heights and taking it to number 1 in the UK. While mentoring on American Idol, Lulu stopped the show with a powerhouse version of To Sir With Love – arranged by Barry Manilow – to an audience of over 70 million.”

  8. 33
    Izzy on 25 Jun 2013 #

    Stamford Bridge?! Is Lulu seriously going to pull 40,000?

  9. 34
    wichitalineman on 26 Jun 2013 #

    No. Somewhere within the ‘complex’ called Under The Bridge. No idea on capacity but £29 a ticket seems pretty reasonable to hear her mega, definitive, and enduring Shout.

  10. 35
    Erithian on 1 Dec 2014 #

    So Take That have the closest approach yet to returning to number one since featuring in Popular in the same configuration as before. And the RTNOSFIP club has had six new members in two weeks: we already had Tom Jones, Robin Gibb, Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden, Holly Johnson, Mick Jones and Paul Heaton – now there’s Mark Owen and Howard Donald this week, and from Band Aid 30 Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Seal and Roger Taylor.

  11. 36
    Musicality on 14 Dec 2014 #

    This is a great 90′s revival disco pop single. Fun, catchy and full of personality which can’t be said for about 95% of all the other boybands.

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