Right Said Fred

Up (1992)

Thoughts Before Listening

Scott

There probably isn’t anyone who hasn’t heard “I’m Too Sexy”. It was literally everywhere when it topped the charts in ‘92. It’s an odd one, because it feels sincere on one level, but on another it has its tongue firmly embedded in its cheek. Is it parody? Is it just the pinnacle of the catchy song of the day?

This one sits a little differently than any of our previous reviews because not only did I buy this album when it came out – I really enjoyed it, like, a lot. It was picked up on the merit of the single (it got played at house parties), but I remember the album being strong – stronger than it had any right to be. This was what appeared to be a gimmick’s debut album. Let’s see if 1992 me had it wrong or if this album still has what it takes.

Weh-Ming

“This would happen inevitably.” That’s what I was thinking when we settled on this as the next review. Eventually, I was going to have to listen to the sound of an orchestra made entirely of rubber ducks being squished in a hydraulic press. Remember that I’m the one actively listening to accordion renditions of famous songs, so when I say “I’m not looking forward to this” that just hits different than most people.

I wasn’t a fan of “I’m Too Sexy” when it came out. No, that’s not true. I hated it. I haven’t given Right Said Fred a second thought in thirty years and I could easily go thirty more. My heart broke just a little when I was able to find this album to stream.

This is going to be Vanilla Ice 2. What does Right Said Fred even mean anyway?


Other Songs of Note

The icing on the cake

Deeply Dippy” – 10 points

Scott (5 points)

A surprisingly good song. It feels very stripped down to start, focusing on just voice and guitar and a little bit of percussion. The second half, with the horn section, just feels so joyous! It’s a highlight on an album full of strong songs.

Weh-Ming (5 points)

If you’d told me that our first 5/5 match would be on this album, I would have called you crazy and a liar and asked you to leave my house.

This is a great song! It’s fun and it makes me happy. Admittedly, I’m not thrilled about the term “deeply dippy”, but whatever, it works in the context of the song. I am tapping along to this. This song absolutely stands out.


Do Ya Feel / Is It True About Love?” – 8 points

Scott (2/2 points)

The rules have been bent! We’re awarding each of these songs 2 points? Why? 1) They play like two halves of a whole and 2) we can bend/break the rules wherever we see fit. Who’s the boss? We’re the boss.

“Do Ya Feel” has great percussion, right up front in the mix. He really does have an interesting voice. It’s not a typical pop voice, but it’s very effective. There’s a surprisingly high level of production – everything is clear and distinct and very well mastered. Guitar breakdown late is very entertaining. A lot of this song, particularly the percussion and bassline, reminds of the Eurythmics. And I mean this in the best possible way.

“Is It True About Love” just flows seamlessly from “Do Ya Feel”. It has a very cool rolling arrangement – I like this one. It’s clean and it’s pure pop and the synths accompanying the guitar / bass add a nice element to this one without dating it too badly.

Weh-Ming (2/2 points)

Not only our first 5/5, but our first major bending of the rules?! Right Said Fred Up is gearing up to be the standout favorite in our adventure so far.

I gave both of these songs 2 points because I consider them to be two halves of the same song. And I wanted to give more points to this album because after some of the dreck we’ve listened to it deserves more points.

“Do Ya Feel” is a pump you up kind of song. I love it. It’s got a catchy beat and the lyrics are great. I thought that it went on a little too long, but then I realized that I was listening to “Is It True About Love?” because it leads directly into it. They are two sides of a coin.

Now some of you are probably thinking “Wait just a minute here! Last week you blasted The Verve for repeating the same thing over and over and now you’re laying the love on real thick here with a song that is roughly 50% the same thing repeated over and over? What gives?!” Great question, thank you for paying attention.

The difference is that The Verve irritated me and Right Said Fred are an amazing band that isn’t getting the accolades they deserve.

I loved it.


Don’t Talk Just Kiss” – 5 points

Scott (4 points)

I remember this song very well and well, it’s still very good. It’s just so relentlessly unapologetically HAPPY. Why does his voice work as well as it does? I don’t get it. This track, like much of the album, sports a top quality bassline. This guy can really play. A deep message it’s not, but it keeps the good times going, and does so with energy.

Weh-Ming (1 point)

I am sure I have heard this song before. Did we get a one hit wonder that is actually a two hit wonder? Why isn’t Right Said Fred getting more attention?

This is peppy and upbeat and I love it. I don’t know where I’ve heard it, but it is super familiar and works for me. This has to have been on a movie soundtrack.

What we would put on our personal mixtapes

No One on Earth

Weh-Ming (4 points)

This is a nice song. It feels like summer. It’s got a hint of something else in it… Talking Heads maybe? It’s upbeat and light, but not offensively so. I like this song. I started rating it at a 1, moved it to a 2, then up to a 3…before landing at a 4. I quite enjoyed it.

Scott Comment

This one has a very cool bass/percussion/voice section before the organ and guitar come swooping in. One of the odd songs where I feel the verses are better than the chorus. My only knock on it is that I feel the horn loop just dates it a bit, something that the rest of the album somehow mostly avoids.

A Love For All Seasons

Scott (3 points)

A delightful opening track. There’s a real “dance music” sensibility but enough real instrument playing to give it an organic feel – real guitar, piano, sweeping strings, and a jammin’ bassline. It owes a lot to disco, but really cuts its own path. Just a really solid track and it does an excellent job of establishing the path the album will take, from both tone and style standpoints.

Weh-Ming Comment (1 Point)

As the opening track, I had to double check that I was listening to the correct album. I may have been slightly biased against this song for points because it surprised me so much that I could be enjoying listening to Right Said Fred. I have enjoyed this song on each of my subsequent listening sessions of this album, but I didn’t have enough points for every song.

But since we’re bending all the rules here, I’m just gonna go ahead and give this a point.


Those Simple Things

Weh-Ming (3 points)

I don’t have much to say here: I like the music, I like the lyrics… I like it. It’s romantic and nostalgic and just plain enjoyable.

Scott Comment

This could easily have slid onto the bottom of my list, but just missed out because it was too competitive. This one is a bit more contemplative than most on the album and the tempo is dropped a lot. I enjoy the two voices playing off each other – the female vocal provides a nice contrast with his deep baritone speak/singing.

Upon My Heart

Scott (1 points)

This is another great song. I love the refrain at the end, and the instruments being able to cut loose a bit. I don’t have much else to say at this point. The album is so consistent that literally any other song on it could have replaced this one on the list and I would have been OK with it. It really came down to my whim as I was finalizing my points.

Weh-Ming Comment

This song could easily have a place in a romantic comedy. Hell, the whole record could! Someone should Mamma Mia this… even “I’m Too Sexy” I suppose.


Final Thoughts

Scott

With To The Extreme, I truly struggled to find songs that would be assigned points. I had the exact opposite problem with Right Said Fred’s Up – this is truly a solid, consistently great album – and I probably could have assigned points to any song on it. It’s hard to process, as they seem(ed) like a novelty act, but Up is a pop gem. “I’m Too Sexy” might (might!) be the catchiest song on the album, but it doesn’t stand out as better than the rest – it just fits in.


Right Said Fred was the first UK act to land a US #1 with a debut single since the Beatles. Let that sink in. We started our One Hit Wonder series to try and unearth music worth listening to that was overshadowed by a monster hit. I’ll be surprised if we ever dig up a better example than Up – it’s a pop masterpiece and a rarity these days – a complete, solid album from front to back.

Weh-Ming

Corn chowder: It is disgusting. Just the worst. The thought of eating a spoonful was repellent and I avoided it my entire life.

Why bring it up? I’m with my family at Scott’s house for supper, and his wife has made corn chowder. I am distraught, but I must get through it because I need to show my daughter that it’s important to try new things. One taste and my brain exploded – one brave spoonful turned into three bowls.

What. The. Hell. 

Right Said Fred? Right Said Fred is the band that I’ve discovered because of this project? The band that I’ve audibly rolled my eyes at just the mention of their name (yes, you read that correctly).

Every expectation I had going into this was blown away. It isn’t all variations on “I’m Too Sexy” like I feared. There are some really touching, nuanced songs that I didn’t know that I needed to hear. The production value is incredible, the music is catchy, the vocals are great.

After I finished the listen through, I went back to listen to “I’m Too Sexy” and you know what? I don’t hate it! Is it possible that the rest of the album has actually made it palatable? 

Right Said Fred is my corn chowder. I regret the years I lost not having eaten corn. None of this hurt my ear taste buds at all, and I went back for seconds! I think I may have stretched that a little further than necessary.

The fact that we’ve broken our completely arbitrary rules regarding assigning points just so we could squeeze in an extra song says something. Right Said Fred is playful, fun, catchy, and just all around excellent and I regret not giving them a chance all those years ago.  

This album is the payoff for doing this project and I recommend it!

PS – it turns out that I just didn’t like the recipe my mom used for corn chowder.


Yeah But What Else

Scott

Down the Rabbit Hole (Additional Listening brought to you by searches inspired by listening to this album.)

Normally this is where I’d give you some related listening, that is often better than whatever we’ve been listening to.  I’m not going to do that for this review.  Go listen to Up.

Weh-Ming

Weird Al has never done a Right Said Fred parody, and I’m disappointed – if he had, maybe I would have heard the rest of this album earlier. I loved it and look forward to listening to the rest of their discography.

1 Comment

  1. I would like to publically thank Weh-Ming for the shout-out.

    Like

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