Rick Astley

Keep It Turned On

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Considered the holy grail of Rick Astley's back catalog, the former Stock, Aitken & Waterman teaboy's first album since "retiring" from the music industry eight years before this release, Keep It Turned On was limited to a German release only during the era when downloading was in its infancy. Those loyal fans, and there are many judging by his post-Rick-Rolling success, who managed to lay their hands on a copy back in 2001 may have advised those who couldn't not to bother. The belated follow-up to original swan song Body & Soul starts promisingly enough, with a trio of summery dance-pop tracks full of filtered house beats, funky acoustic guitar licks, and shimmering synths ("Sleeping," "Wanna Believe You," "What You See Is What You Get"), which suggest that former labelmate Kylie's recent Light Years was never off the Astley family stereo the previous year, while the title track is an uplifting slice of Ronan Keating-style acoustic guitar pop. But co-written with Chris Braide (Westlife, Clay Aiken), the rest of the album descends into pure MOR territory, thanks to a series of drippy forgettable ballads such as "One Night Stand" (which comes complete with corny spoken word interlude), the over-earnest schmaltz of "Romeo Loves Juliet," the watered-down R&B of "Breathe," which contains some decidedly bizarre lyrics ("there'll be dust on the spice rack in no time at all/who's around to notice?"), and a pointlessly faithful cover version of the track he penned for Rene Froger, "Miracle," none of which do justice to his still impressive soulful croon. Of course, the decision to come out of retirement would later prove a wise one, but it doesn't take away from the fact that Keep It Turned On is a rather shaky comeback, which might explain why Astley appears to have since erased it from his career.

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