It didn’t quite match the sales of its illustrious predecessor, No Parlez, but Paul Young’s second album was still a significant success, topping the charts in 1985 and spawning four Top 20 hits (I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, Everything Must Change, Everytime You Go Away and Tomb Of Memories) on its way to double-platinum certification. Young’s distinctive blue-eyed soul voice was perfectly complemented by a tight and funky band, in which Pino Palidino’s distinct guitar figures were key. This fully annotated set, priced to sell at less than £10, adds a bonus CD featuring B-sides and 12-inch mixes, many of which appear on CD for the first time here.
How elevating it is to see Paul Young’s back catalogue given the re-mastering treatment. This is Young’s sophomore album, 'The Secret of Association', originally released in 1985, which followed-up the highly successful 'No Parlez' two years earlier. 'The Secret of Association' reviewed here is complete with a bonus disc and extended liner notes.
The album opens with the catchy 'Bite the Hand That Feeds' and this sets the trend and guides us through a wealth of music, highlighted by many of the tracks being written by Young. This is followed by, arguably the stand-out track here 'Every Time You Go Away', written by Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame, which is unlike the single release, being slightly less poppy and has a completely different beginning which is slightly disconcerting on a first-listen, but follows with an explosion of rich soul and pop, perfectly executed by Young.
'I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down' follows, which is a familiar track to many. 'Soldier’s Things' is a cover of a Tom Waits song, which is a poignant ballad that basically lists items left behind by a deceased serviceman, with its simplicity being one of the strengths, but a fine choice for a cover track. Other notable tracks include the massive hits, 'Everything Must Change' and 'Tomb of Memories'. 'One Step Forward', is worth a mention for its uniqueness, as it contains an orchestral backing track which breaks the general feel of the album, but it still sits well. 'Hot Fun', is aptly titled and an enjoyable listen. 'This Means Anything' is bouncy pop, but doesn’t add a great deal to the album.
The closing track, 'I’m Was in Chains' is another ballad with effective use of bass harmonica and violin, to be heard much later with the commercial success of artists such as The Corrs, and is a perfect way to end this classic album. The whole disc flows exceptionally well, with rich and thorough production evident throughout.
The second disc contains 12" mixes and b-sides only found on singles, and it is encouraging to find a complete collection of the tracks released at the time, which makes this re-release worth considering. If you’re a fan of 12" versions, you won’t be disappointed, with versions of the singles included here. Other rarer tracks making the cut include 'Give Me My Freedom', a simple but effective piano ballad, released originally as the b-side of 'Everything Must Change'. Also included is Billy Bragg-penned, 'The Man in the Iron Mask', a slow ballad, with an almost dreamy feel about it, but rather enchanting. The disc rounds off with live, energetic versions of 'Bite the Hand That Feeds' and 'No Parlez' which concludes an almost perfect collection of two discs showcasing some of Young’s finest work, and if you can listen to it back to back with his debut, 'No Parlez' – all for the better!