I've Got the Music in Me
The Kiki Dee Band
Released: November 1974
Chart Peak: #28
Weeks Charted: 18
Elton John's most interesting discovery since he formed Rocket Records is Kiki Dee, a singer with the potential to do for British pop-rock what Olivia Newton-John has done for pop-country. With her second album, she has earned commercial success, but artistic success remains a matter of potential.
Kiki's principal strength is not her voice but her enthusiasm. She is so spirited that she sometimes reminds one of a post-adolescent Suzi Quatro. Like Suzi Q., whenever talent fails, Dee trusts that energy to get her through. Unlike Quatro, however, Kiki has some vocal talent to go with her lack of inhibition.
Rather than intelligent and sensitive lyrics as "Little frozen one, I know you could be fine/ But nobody told you you still got so much time" seem sententious and pretentious. In this, she is more reminiscent of Bernie Taupin, Elton's lyricist, than Mitchell.
The group, which is fine onstage (perhaps having benefited from a long tour with Elton) is little more than competent here. On "I've Got the Music," however, they shine. Guitarist Jo Partridge, in particular, is shown to good effect.
If Kiki Dee were capable of restricting her attempts to reasonable lengths and topics without straying into the sentiment and bathos which prevail too often on this album, she would make an extraordinarily pleasant addition popular singing. Her inclination, I think, is to cut loose and rock. But it is unfortunate that that instinct is expressed so infrequently on I've Got the Music in Me.
- Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone, 1/16/75.
Rock has never been an interpreter's medium, and rock performers are usually only as good as their material. There are exceptions, of course, but I'm afraid Kiki Dee isn't one of them. On her last album, which I perhaps overrated in the first flush of excitement at finding a girl singer who could really rock, you could overlook her own mediocre quasi-folk compositions because she was also singing the dickens out of some ace tunes by Elton John and Jackson Browne, among others. This time we're not so lucky. Further, and equally unfortunate, Gus Dudgeon's production has nowhere near the grace and clarity of Elton's on the last one, and Kiki's band can't quite match the level of playing Elton extracted from the various celebrated British sidemen he employed. Drummer Roger Pope in particular almost sinks the album single-handedly with some of the most obnoxious pounding I've heard since the legendary drum battle between Dave Clark and Gary Lewis on the old Lloyd Thaxton Show.
Be that as it may, "I've Got the Music in Me," her very welcome surprise hit single, and the concluding track "You Need Help" (an absolutely spectacular song I've been anxiously awaiting since I heard her do it live a while back) are stunning tracks, and I still think Kiki has it in her to be the first really authoritative female rocker; all she has to do is be a little more selective about choosing her repertoire. Its glaring faults notwithstanding, you could make a much worse investment than this record.
- Steve Simels, Stereo Review, 2/75.
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