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KIM WILDE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Kim Wilde (EMI America) 1981
Select (UK RAK) 1982
Catch as Catch Can (EMI America) 1983
Teases & Dares (MCA) 1984
Another Step (MCA) 1986
Close (MCA) 1988

Daughter of pre-Beatles British teen idol Marty Wilde and sister of auteur Ricky (aka Ricki) Wilde, the pouty, adorable Kim Wilde turned out to be a reasonably talented pop singer herself. A bit older than she looked — she was 20 when her debut (and enduring international claim to fame) single, "Kids in America," hit the charts — she benefited greatly from a combination of nubile sex appeal, new wave pep and her family's commercial savvy (not to mention connections).

The songs on Kim Wilde, which father and son wrote and son produced, focus thematically on youth, which works for Kim's image but launches her a bit closer to featherweight bubblegum than one would think prudent for a carefully calculated record for a British teen market already set on the likes of Adam Ant, the Jam and Duran Duran. "Kids in America," "Chequered Love" and "Water on Glass" are, nonetheless, wonderful confections.

Three years and several albums later, Teases & Dares makes it perfectly clear that this fresh-faced girl had grown up, from the cool, glammy cover photos to lyrics that challenge a man in "a cheap motel" to "stop giving up — you know you can't refuse me" and "go for the second time." Whew! The music also emphasizes her maturity, abandoning simpleminded snap for intricate synthesizer rock. Kim slips two of her own compositions (frustrated, lonely, glum; "Fit In" sounds like Laura Nyro) into the otherwise upbeat nonsense fed her by her family. The album is hit-and-miss, succeeding primarily in pointing up her limitations as a vocalist.

[Ira Robbins]