I adore Kylie Minogue but I will, wthout hesitation, recommend people not to purchase Ultimate Kylie unless they are casual listeners who want a comprehensive and somewhat complete collection of her hit singles since 1983 or they are die-hard fans who must own everything that has Ms Minogue’s face and name on it. In short, middle-of-the-road fans who already have most or all of her CDs will find Ultimate Kylie, her third official hit compilation, a waste of money.
Ultimate Kylie charts the Singing Budgie’s ascension to fame singing utterly cheesy and throwaway Stock-Aitken-Watermann jingles, her brief flirtation with credibility in her Deconstruction days, and her subsequent career until the present day. Some tracks are noticeably missing, especially those from her Deconstruction albums, but that’s what the other compilation Hits + is for.
I don’t know about anyone else but I really can’t listen to her songs from her SAW days without laughing or groaning in embarrassment. Those awfully corny lines (“I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky;I should be so lucky in love…”), the tragically simple nursery-rhyme production values of those songs – ugh. But when they came out, I was actually enjoying every minute of the cheese that are Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi (altogether now: “I… I… I’m…. WONDERING WHY!”), Wouldn’t Change a Thing, and of course, I Should Be So Lucky. Her later works with SAW are pretty good though. Better the Devil You Know is still one of her best songs to date but Step Back in Time, Shocked, and What Do I Have to Do are also pretty good. It shows how important Ms Minogue is to SAW that when she demands to have more creative input into her works, they quietly comply and even come up with some tracks that aren’t their usual five-minute brain excreta. While her SAW songs make her the best kept secret of the gay community in Europe and the USA when the mainstream media and public are happy to ignore her as payback to SAW’s flooding the charts for a decade with utter crap, it is when Ms Minogue is out of the limelight and is free to experiment that she really shines. I’ve covered most of this time period in my reviews of Hits +, Light Years, Fever, and the lackluster Body Language so I won’t repeat myself there.
What I will say though is this: the new tracks on this compilation are stonking fabulous. The Scissor Sisters are always a fan of the Singing Budgie (well, that’s not as surprising as, say, Nick Cave having a shrine to her at his home, I guess) so their collaboration with her here are reminiscent of her best moments of collaboration with Steve Anderson. I Believe in You is really, really, fabulously amazing and (Can’t Start) Giving You Up is almost as good. I Believe in You is one of those magical moments that transcends the whole “gay/straight” club scene thing. There are definite purple-camp friendly elements in the songs that owe their existence heavily to disco kings and queens like Erasure (this is a Scissor Sisters production after all) but the Light Years-like hook and the Confide in Me-ish vocal acrobats will get any dance floor moving. Just as with Steve Anderson, Ms Minogue’s collaboration with the admittedly overexposed Scissor Sisters result with some of her finest music to date. Any chance of them working on a CD together? After the lackluster Body Language, an album with fab club anthems will be just perfect.
But after all that is said and done, why should a fan who has already all or most of her CDs purchase yet another compilation of hit singles? Well, I must admit that I fall in the more devoted fan camp. Yes, I buy every single or CD that has her face and name on it. Can we change the subject now? Seriously, this CD just isn’t worth the price for those fans that I have described. I Believe in You is also available as a single or, if they are too cheap to buy, downloadable through the usual friendly illegal channels on the online neighborhood. It’s a good song that is worth checking out if you love Confide in Me, Butterfly, Light Years, or any great club track to dance like an epileptic crackpot to.