Today’s POP RESCUE is the 2003 seventh album Careful What You Wish For by Scottish band Texas.
The first thing to note about this album, is just how little the band appear on the artwork – mostly it’s Sharleen Spiteri in some (pseudo?) state of standing-up-failure with a microphone. The artwork gives the impression that this album is going to be harder and raucous than it really is.
Anyway… first up is Telephone X, the one and only collaboration with legendary producer Trevor Horn (who appears here also playing bass guitar). Obviously it opens with a telephone call, before the chugging guitars kick in. ‘When you ring my number, you ring my head‘ Sharleen sings, and as an idea, this song kind of works. It does feel like it could hark back to something from their brilliant and highly successful White On Blonde album. It’s a good start.
Next up is Broken which includes guitars from Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds. This song feels a bit Pulp in the chorus to me. However, this song isn’t exactly sing-along. It’s harmless enough – with Sharleen’s delicate vocals in the verses, and her powerful vocals battling the gnarling guitars in the chorus.
Third track Carnival Girl, was the lead single, and features Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall. It’s more mellow than the previous two tracks, but feels completely different to previous Texas tracks as it features a rap. Yes. A rap. I’m not sure that the rap really helps the song along at all, or why Texas were wanting to add rap to their tracks. This feels lazy, and like Texas were hoping for an Eminem/Dido hit, but it just doesn’t work. At 2:40, Sharleen even gives a weird key change section, and the song just feels more embarrassingly awful as it drags on. Somehow it reached #9 in the UK.
This is followed by I’ll See It Through – the second and final single from this album. The introduction reminds me somewhat of The Carpenter‘s big hit Close To You. This song was, as noted by the sticker on the front of my CD, as ‘The Christmas Single‘. I guess that there’s elements of ‘wish list’ and ‘winter’ in this song, but I’ve not spotted a reference to Christmas. It’s a slow number, and one that includes strings, piano, and a range of vocals for Sharleen. When you listen to this track after Carnival Girl, it makes you wonder how the hell they got stuck together on the same album. This is a really nice track, but sadly stalled at #40 on the UK singles chart.
Twangling guitars usher in next track Where Did You Sleep?, swiftly followed by Sharleen’s gentle vocals. A drum fill kicks in and chugging guitars arrive. This track has a great pace and some real life to it, and it’s pretty catchy. It reminds me a little bit of Garbage‘s hit Stupid Girl in the chorus. Hit-making songwriter Guy Chambers has a writing co-credit here, as well as guitar duties. This song really should have been the lead single.
Up next is track And I Dream, is an okay song. It definitely feels like an album track, but one that would fit in to the Texas that we loved back on White On Blonde. Not strong enough to be a single, it still stands up fine amongst the rest of the album.
Pianos and bass open title track Careful What You Wish For. Ian Broudie is back here, but on mixing duties. There’s a vintage feel to this track, courtesy of the vocals, hand claps, and piano. It’s a nice gentle track, and was perhaps a pre-cursor for Sharleen’s 2008 solo album Melody which features the same kind of 60’s/70s style.
Gentle acoustic guitar open eighth track Big Sleep, giving Sharleen a mellow companion through this slow song. They’re joined by a harmonica which seems to roar in contrast, but doesn’t overpower – but compliments instead.
Under Your Skin is up next. Piano, vintage vocal style and bass return here. The chorus is lead by chugging guitars, giving the song a great pace to it. This feels like classic Texas again, and I could imagine this one having potential as a single. The bass and piano have a catchy sounding relationship, that has genuinely made me wriggle in my seat. It’s catchy.
Next up is Carousel Dub which features Suncycle. Seeing the word ‘Dub’ on the album sleeve worries me somewhat, having already endured a pretty dreadful rap song earlier on. The song opens with a kind of backwards playing music from a carousel ride. This then sees the return of rappers over a soft beat, with some samples of Sharleen singing *something* but I’m not sure what it is. The track lasts just over 2 minutes, and doesn’t really consist of anything more than a repeated spoken section by Suncycle.
Beat picks up for penultimate track Place In My World, which again seems to include spoken samples from Dolomite (who does drop a rap into the track at about 2:40). Thankfully, Sharleen’s vocals are given space to shine here – which they do, taking a soft and gentle approach – over a mix of keyboards and programmed drums. Dolomite is far less intrusive, and this pairing is certainly far better than in Carnival Girl.
Guitars open final track Another Day, pitched against some strings which underlay most of this song. Sharleen sings low in this mid-tempo track. ‘Call me up and let’s begin‘ she sings over, almost giving a nod to the opening telephone track. It’s a gentle repetitive track but a nice ending to this bumpy album.
Overall, this album feels like it’s a bit of a struggle. It feels like there were some ideas for which direction Texas should head, and so they decided to try them all. The use of rappers in this Scottish pop-rock band just doesn’t work. Inevitably, it’s a mixed bag. A bumpy ride. An uneasy listen right the way through. I know there’s some good strong tracks here, but sadly they weren’t the ones that got released as singles.
Where are Texas now?
Texas released one more album – Red Book – after this in 2005, before entering a hiatus. During this break, Sharleen continued as a solo artist, releasing two hit albums.
Founding band member and guitarist, Ally McErlaine suffered a brain aneurysm in 2010, and recovered. He re-joined Texas in 2011.
The band returned in 2013 and scored a hit in the UK with their 8th album The Conversation. The band are poised to release their Texas 25 album in February 2015 – a mixture of new and old songs, all re-worked.
POP RESCUE RATING:
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 3 / 5
- 2003 UK CHART POSITION: #5, certified Gold.
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.99 from a British Heart Foundation store.