London King's Cross Water Rats

You join us in 1987. Prime Minister Thatch, just elected for a third term, is determined to sweep all before her...

You join us in 1987. Prime Minister Thatch, just elected for a third term, is determined to sweep all before her; Clause 28 and the Poll Tax are looming large, while nuclear war has been replaced by AIDS as the new terror of the age. Whether such a climate made the second album by the openly gay Communards the defiantly political, proudly emotional and breathlessly brilliant pop record it is may be open to debate. But it felt like it at the time.

And it still does. 'There's More To Love Than Boy Meets Girl' could have been as toe-curlingly trite as the title suggests, but instead it's a heartfelt, upbeat soul pop gem in the how-can-something-that-feels-so-right-be-wrong vein. Likewise, 'Tomorrow' is a defiant, 'I Will Survive'-style statement of intent, while 'Victims' is a simple, unpretentious, resignedly melancholy appeal for understanding in an era when 'gay plague' headlines were still all over the tabloids. 'For A Friend' is simply heartbreaking, a tribute to a friend who has recently died, we are bound to speculate, from AIDS.

But the potentially grim lyrical subtext is never allowed to overshadow a fervent passion for dancing in the face of disaster. Former Number One 'Never Can Say Goodbye' is pure gay disco with its love of hi-NRG, northern soul, all shades of pop from Spector to electro, and an elegantly emotive way with a piano chord still bleeding from its heart.

Jimmy Somerville has since become better known for his anodyne cover versions, and Richard Coles barely heard of since. But for the duration of this album at least, they were more relevant than anyone.

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