When it was initially released in the mid-'80s, the Colour Field's Virgins and Philistines had little in common with most of the albums recorded during that decade. The passing of years has only strengthened the LP's timeless appeal. Plucking sounds from the late '60s and early '70s, the Colour Field created an album that will never be dated because it cannot be attached to a specific era. The mournful violin and sultry Latin rhythms of "Castles in the Air" represent the apex of vocalist Terry Hall's artistry. Hopelessly romantic, "Castles in the Air" yearns for lost love with a filmmaker's eye and a poet's ear. There are two versions of "Castles in the Air" on the Japanese CD reissue of Virgins and Philistines, the second of which has a lengthy instrumental intro; both are stunningly beautiful. The Japanese edition of Virgins and Philistines actually eclipses the original. First of all, there are more songs: 20 instead of merely 12. The bonus tracks include a dreamy cover of "Windmills of Your Mind," an instrumental rendition of "Thinking of You," and the rare B-side "My Wild Flame," essentially a rewrite of "The Colour Field." "Pushing Up Daisies" can be found on either version; however, on CD the track's thorny guitar riffs and sullen basslines have greater punch. "Pushing Up Daisies" offers a sobering look at withering stardom; Hall may write from a downcast, cynical perspective, but his unpretentious, honest lyrics are always hummable. Hall expresses more emotion on Virgins and Philistines than he ever did with his previous groups, the Specials and Fun Boy Three. On "Take," Hall sings, "You just take/And pile on the agony." The pain in Hall's voice rips through the song's cozy layer of acoustic guitars. The remake of "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" is the only track on the LP that received radio airplay in the U.S., and it's misleading; nothing else on the album is that upbeat. Although the album looks to the past for inspiration, it's never retro; the music is frozen in suspended animation, always fresh whenever it's heard.
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AllMusic Review by Michael Sutton