Paul Rutherford

Oh World

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Paul Rutherford's full-length solo debut was a victim of bad timing when it came to its original release, thanks to a BBC ban of the acid-friendly (in more ways than one) "Get Real." That resulted in the full album never seeing a U.K. release in favor of a European issue only; heard many years later, the album's easygoing dance-mutating-into-house feel comes across as something that seems both perfectly commercial and engaging in its own right to have warranted that hometown attention. Given his secondary vocal role in Frankie Goes to Hollywood, it's little surprise that Oh World almost feels like Rutherford aiming to liberate his voice in a variety of contexts shaped by two production teams, Dave Clayton and Joe Dworniak and ABC's Martin Fry and Mark White. The latter had just done a bit of house reinvention themselves with the Up album, so it's little surprise that "Get Real" in particular slips sleekly along, "I Feel Love" updated for a new decade's end. Clayton and Dworniak's work otherwise predominates, able to tackle a variety of genres from late-'80s dance formalism to reasonably lush, lower-key soul/pop. No matter the producer, Rutherford's performances are enjoyable if not always sit-up-straight remarkable; more than once George Michael feels like the clear role model on songs like "Who Said It Was Easy." Still, there's a looseness in the overall feeling of the album that compares favorably to Billy Mackenzie's near contemporary stumble with Wild and Lonely; Rutherford sounded more tuned in to the times on the one hand while able to take a gentler, smokies turn on songs like "The Gospel Truth." In 2011 the album received a comprehensive reissue featuring an exhaustive selection of B-sides and remixes from the time, including several from Arthur Baker.

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