Number Ones: #74


  • PETE WYLIE Sinful! (Eternal)
  • Week Ending 7th June 1986
  • 1 Week At #1


If ever a single deserved to be a #1, it was this. In my world at least, Sinful! got its rightful status, although the #13 it reached on the UK charts would prove a career high for Pete Wylie under his own name.

Well, I say under his own name but ever the cheeky maverick, Wylie couldn’t resist crediting the single to Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks; he may have ditched the whole Wah! moniker (for a brief spell, anyway) but the exclamation mark lived on in the track’s title.

I’d always had time for Pete Wylie; the big Wah! hit single The Story Of The Blues (Part 1) was out at the start of 1983, a time when the first flickers of serious interest in pop music were lighting up in my brain, and tracks like Steppin’ Out, Living On The Ceiling and Electric Avenue were seducing me into actually staying in the room when Top Of The Pops was on.

The Story Of The Blues (Part 1) was pretty epic, and very Scouse. All of Pete Wylie’s music is pretty epic, and very Scouse. It has that cavernous (if you’ll pardon the pun), Wall-of-Sound thing going on, lots of strings, big choruses, lyrics belted out with passion and (self) belief. All traits which really ought to have made the man a star.

Come Back was, typically, the title of his/their comeback single in 1984, after a bit of a wobble with the follow-up to The Story Of The Blues (Part 1). It was pretty epic, and very Scouse. Quite how it managed to only reach #20 remains a scandalous oversight; yes everyone was obsessed with Frankie Goes To Hollywood in June 1984 (none moreso than I) but, really, Come Back was the very definition of an anthemic slice of classic pop. Maybe if it had actually been the follow-up to The Story Of The Blues in 1983, eh. Ah well.

So, a couple of years pass, and it’s all been very low-key on the Pete Wylie front (if anything to do with Pete Wylie could ever be low-key). Enter Sinful!, not Wah! by name but every bit Wah! by nature. Wherever he had been, the results on his return were arguably better than ever. Sinful! scales the same anthemic heights as his/their previous hits, but the sound of the record….wow.

Yes, it’s another 1986 #1 on my chart that is big, bold and has oomph. Where arguably in the past, some of the Wah! songs could be a little heavy-going, Sinful! is sonically bright and breezy, carried along by the bubbling bass and keyboards. There are choirs, there are self-depricating lines (“it’s Sinful, so true…boo-hoo”), there’s a bonkers guitar solo, and there is the overriding sense that Pete Wylie is utterly on top of his game.

Surprisingly, this imperial phase – which continued through to the end of 1987 with the beauteous ballad Fourelevenfortyfour (despite the title, not a Prince-ly dalliance with funk) – did not proffer up any further UK chart action. Diamond Girl (August 1986) and If I Love You (July 1987) got nowhere, despite sharing much of Sinful!‘s appeal. An album, also entitled Sinful!, trickled out in late August 1987, when the collective memory of its brilliant title track had long since faded.

Fourelevenfortyfour was its final single, and ought to have put Pete Wylie back in the UK Top 40. It didn’t. The public are swines, I know.

He resurrected Wah! as Wah! The Mongrel in 1991 for Don’t Lose Your Dreams, another bout of pop that was pretty epic, and very Scouse. Once again it flopped. The one release that did chart was, regrettably, a new version of Sinful! recorded with then-ubiquitous indie brickies The Farm. “Scary Jiggin’ With Doctor Love”.

Embarrassing doesn’t even begin to describe it. It really was a sinful thing to do.


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