Y’know, if you name your kid Herbert or Poindexter, you’re just setting that child up for a lifetime of teasing and ridicule.Â And if you name your band Kajagoogoo, well, you can expect a certain amount of critical derision.
That’s probably why after the success of the band’s first album, White Feathers, and Top 5 single, “Too Shy,” the group ditched both lead singer Limahl (the story goes Limahl was a Buddhist while the rest of the ‘goos were Christians) and the “googoo” suffix to release their second album, Extra Play, under the new name Kaja.Â Except we here in the States are the only ones that got that title and improved moniker – everywhere else in the world Extra Play was known as Islands, the cover art was completely different, and the band remained Kaja with the googoo still intact.
Another difference was the U.S. got a different first single and remix of said song.Â “Turn Your Back On Me” (download) kept with Kaja’s new mission as probably New Wave’s first overtly Christian act (unless you’d like to throw U2 in there), as the funky, bass-fueled number featured lyrics with a heavily allegorical Judas/Jesus theme – or maybe it was really supposed to be sung from Limahl’s point of view?Â No?Â Hrmm.
“Turn Your Back On Me” got a beefier mix for its Stateside release, as well as a different video than overseas, to no avail, since I never saw it on MTV, only once on Nickelodeon when they used to play music videos between programs.Â While bassist and new vocalist Nick Beggs probably had a better voice than Limahl, he was lacking the charisma of the exiled Buddhist, and it didn’t help that he resembled ’til tuesday’s Aimee Mann:
“Turn Your Back On Me” caused barely a ripple in the surface, which is too bad, since Islands (or Extra Play, if you prefer) wasn’t a bad album overall.Â While the production sheen of Nick Rhodes was gone, along with the walls of synths it brought with it, returning co-producer Colin Thurston helmed some more than decent songs from the remaining quartet, including the U.K. Top Ten hit, “Big Apple,” and Islands’ first single overseas, “The Lion’s Mouth.” (download) Actually, if “The Lion’s Mouth” had been the first single Stateside, perhaps it would have done better than “Turn Your Back On Me,” since it recalled the New Wave/Jazz fusion funk of Level 42 more than anything else.Â And check out the funky bass stick Beggs sports in the video:
Extra Play sank like a stone in the States, maybe because people weren’t quite ready for Kaja’s lyrical shift from songs about dressing in vogue and too shy girls to tunes about Jesus’s betrayal and Romans feeding Christians to the lions.
Kaja went on to drop the googoo worldwide for their third album, Crazy Peoples Right To Speak, a decidedly limp affair that I bought when it came out over twenty years ago and listened to maybe twice since.Â I should give it another shot, though, since Caroline Records was nice enough to re-release both Islands (in its original form, plus the U.S. remixes) and Crazy Peoples… in 2004, both packed with bonus tracks and still in print.
As for Kaja today, they reunited with both Limahl and the googoo last year and are currently touring festivals in the U.K.Â They’re even recording a new album scheduled for release in 2009.
Neither single charted.
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