The Nolans - Chemistry: The Ultimate Collection [Hot Shot Records/Cherry Red - 2018]The Nolans/The Nolan Sisters have always stood as one of top draw guilty pleasures. Though-out the 70ís & the 80ís the British/ Irish girl group released a host of campy-yet- catchy pop fare, that dripped in & out of disco, synth-pop, pop-soul, and cheesy pop ballads. On Hot Shot Records (part of the Cherry Red group) is Chemistry a double-disc compilation of the sisterís finest moments- bringing together a 79 minute CD, with a DVD of videos from the group.
I think the first time I heard & fell in love with the band was with the release of their 1979 hit "Iím In The Mood For Dancing"- as a child I loved the bouncing bright vibe of the track, and as Iíve grown older Iíve come to cherish the tracks perfect blend of 70ís brit pop & campy disco. Though-out the early 80ís I recalling hearing more singles from the band, and enjoying what I heardÖbut I think my true fandom for the group started in 2009 when the 7ítís label(another Cherry Red sub-label) reissued the bands first two albums Ė 1979ís The Noland Sisters & 1980ís Making Waves. Each album highlighted the bands ability to write extremely memorable, campy, and for the most part varied 1970ís/ 80ís brit pop fare. Sure though-out their career they jumped on one bandwagon after another be it Disco, synth pop, Abba like close harmony pop, or soul pop- so they where never really innovators, but what the did have is distinctive charm, a good ear for a tune, and always a sense of campy fun.
The CD takes in twenty tracks, plus a 12Ē remix. And really (and for my part sadly), it doesnít follow a chronology path- we open with 1983 single "Dressed To Kill"- which was really when their star started to wane- the tracks a pleasant enough slice of choppy synthy & swinging horned soul-pop, but itís hardly their finest moment (and at the end of the comp we get the aforementioned 12Ē remix of said track). Anyway, for me, the comp doesnít fully kick-in gear until track number three when we get cheeky pop-disco of 1980ís single "Whoís Going To Rock You"- featuring the sister's distinctive harmony vocals. After to this we have, "Iím In The Mood For Dancing"Öand on from here the compilation seems to stay pretty much on track. Highlights include the showily & twinkle funk/soul ballad of 1981ís "Donít Love Me Too Hard". Onto the rather manic-yet brightly cheesy pulsing synthy pop pump of 1980ís "Gotta Pull Myself Together". Or the glossily showy slow disco & funk twang ballad of "Lead Me On"- an album track from Making Waves album- who canít resist a track with a chorus like ďLead Me On, Tease Me all night longĒ?.
Moving onto the DVD & we get eight original videos- we open with "Iím In The Mood For Dancing"- which finds the five-piece dressed in a glittery black top & super tight shiny pink trouser combo, doing their stuff with a backdrop of slow flushing disco lights & neon light lines. Onto "Gotta Pull My Self"- which sees the group going from charmingly cheesy yellow jean & T-shirt combo dance, onto shell-suited break-ups by the river, through to the larking about on a decidedly cold looking British beach with the band dressed in all white. Through the Big earrings, moody looks, and bell boy bringing a huge old style finger dial telephone of "Donít Love Me Too Hard". Really all the videos here are fun snap-shots of when pop it was lot more campy, fun & cheesy.
The set is topped off with a wonderful colorful & glossy twenty-page inlay booklet- taking a new six-page write up about the band's history, key singles, etc- which takes in contributions from Annie Nolan. We also get a host of greatly cheesy single cover artwork, full track details, and publicity pictures.
Aside from early criticism regarding the sequencing & choice of opener Chemistry:The Ultimate Collection is a pretty great Nolands Complation- and if youíve never checked out the band & are a fan of the 70ís/ 80ís pop- then this is must have. Also, Iíd highly recommend the two-disc The Nolands/ Making Waves set from 2009 too, if itís still in print as there are some great, great album only gems on those tooRoger Batty