Review: Belinda Carlisle – Gold/Runaway Horses (Boxset Edition)
The most comprehensive compilation of Belinda Carlisle’s singles joins an excellent overhaul of her 1989 classic album…
If you’re reading this, you may well already own a Belinda Carlisle compilation. There have been nine hits sets since The Best Of Belinda reached No.1 in 1992, which is impressive for a singer who has only released eight solo albums. Whether we really need a tenth is debatable; Demon’s most recent set, 2014’s The Collection, returned Carlisle to the Top 30 for the first time since 1999 (via another singles compilation, the gold-selling A Place On Earth: The Greatest Hits).
So you might think you’re already covered, but you can’t argue with the thoroughness of Gold. Although the (inevitably gold-coloured) 2LP vinyl version only features a paltry 20 songs, the 3CD set is a mammoth 56-song affair, including a new tender cover of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. In amongst the expected Heaven Is A Place On Earth and Circle In The Sand, damn right you’re also going to find the 7″ mix of Big Scary Animal and Carlisle’s interest in Kundalini yoga chants on Humee Hum Brahm Hum.
More interesting is the boxset edition of Carlisle’s 1989 album Runaway Horses. You’ll know Leave A Light On and (We Want) The Same Thing from all those compilations. They sound box-fresh 30 years on, as does infectious live favourite Summer Rain and the tender Shades Of Michaelangelo, a rare co-write for Carlisle. The pressure was on the hits, but other than the cheesy flamenco of La Luna, Carlisle was able to deliver pop-rock confections on-demand by now.
In among the slew of hits compilations, it’s good to see Carlisle’s proper albums get respect, too. The 30th anniversary boxset, coinciding with a UK tour, houses four LPs and a CD, as well as a comprehensive booklet featuring interviews with Carlisle, producer Rick Nowels and songwriter Ellen Shipley. The original album is joined by an eight-song singles LP, a six-song remix LP and a fourth disc featuring three dub/ a capella mixes and three new cover versions: Both Sides Now from the Gold CD plus Elton John’s I Need You To Turn To and Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind.
The singles LP is essential – the pop take of (We Want) The Same Thing is radically different from the album original – while Justin Strauss’ remix of Summer Rain is hyperactive early rave heaven. Some demos and out-takes would also have been welcome, but Demon and Carlisle’s fans now largely want the same thing.
*this article contains affiliate links