… are the personages in this "Christmas Cantata" written in 1712 for performance at the Vatican. The notes with the CD suggest a burden of historical and political allusions in the libretto, quite interesting in their way but utterly imperceptible to modern ears. Really, the recitativos and arias of Caldara's Vaticini di Pace sound remarkably like Handel - the same broad but expressive melodies, the same robust instrumental accompaniment, the same treatment of the voice as a thing apart from the instruments, so unlike the hard-to-sing instrument-like vocal lines of JS Bach. To listeners of 1712, of course, it would have been vice-versa, Handel who sounded like Caldara, since Caldara was fifteen years older and well established.
Kim Wilde's second album didn't score any hits on the level of the debut's "Kids in America," although the dramatic "Cambodia" was a sort of cult favorite in some circles. That said, it's a far better album than the patchy debut; the songs, again by brother Rikki Wilde with occasional collaborations by father Marty Wilde, don't have the bubblegum tinge that colored much of 1981's Kim Wilde. The arrangements are more synth-oriented, at times approaching the dark atmospherics of Japan or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The occasionally melodramatic lyrics cover topics like police brutality and paranoia – unsurprisingly, new insights aren't much in evidence – and even the love songs, like the delicate "View from a Bridge," aren't exactly happy. The overall vibe of this album is so chilly that the one basically upbeat song, "Can You Come Over," sounds really out of place, but overall, it works. Wilde sings with a clinical detachment here that suits her voice quite well; whenever Wilde tries to emote musically, the results sound forced and melodramatic, but her icy edge on this album is surprisingly appealing.
There's no doubt many heard Kim Wilde searching for the beat on "Kids in America," but know now that she finds it – thus, the rest of this sterling debut comes dangerously close in quality to that killer kickoff. The second cut, "Water on Glass," follows the sound from the wild streets to Wilde's brain, maintaining a high level of exuberant class. Weird staccato runs down the streets of "Our Town," while "Everything We Know" chills into an icy groove. Wilde only wants to be free in "Young Heroes," and by side two's single, "Chequered Love," she gives permission to touch her and do anything (surprising, considering her pro-pop dad and brother wrote the whole LP). Hard guitars and xylophones get physical, until horns and ska skip into "2-6-5-8-0"; by this point in the record, Wilde can pull off anything she wants, and ends up sounding like a No Doubt B-side. "You'll Never Be So Wrong" mellows the turgid tempo but not the precise passion, and she just plain gets upset in "Falling Out." From the womb to the end of "Tuning in Turning On," Kim Wilde is one excellent inaugural, one excellent chapter in the evolution of hi-NRG, and one excellent slab everyone should own.