It’s 30 years since the younger Minogue sister released her debut album in the UK. ‘Love and Kisses’ launched Dannii’s UK music career by spawning five Top 40 singles and being certified Gold in the UK.
Join me as I journey to my teenage years and look back at, perhaps controversially, my favourite Dannii album.
Despite being more well known down under thanks to her stint on Young Talent Time, Dannii was first introduced to the UK through big sister Kylie who was enjoying an incredible start to her career with her debut album the biggest selling of 1988. As Kylie promoted her fourth single ‘Je Ne Sais Pas Porquoi’ on Saturday morning kids’ show ‘Going Live’ late in 1988, Dannii happened to be visiting and was unexpectedly pulled in front of the camera by Phillip Schofield:
As you’ll see, she was quick to point out all the projects she was working on. Fast forward a couple of years and she was back on the same show promoting her debut single, ‘Love and Kisses’.
Before we get to that, it is worth noting that Dannii had already released three singles and a 10 track version of the album in Australia, simply called ‘Dannii’ in 1990. It peaked at No.24 on the ARIA charts upon release in October 1990 whilst the single ‘Love and Kisses’ went as high as No.4 and was certified gold and ‘Success’ also went Top 40.
Whilst releasing records in Australia in 1990, here in the UK we were seeing Dannii as feisty Emma Jackson on soap opera ‘Home & Away’; a role written especially for her. She stayed in the show for just a year and it was clear that her ambitions lay in music. We also got a tiny glimpse of an unrecognisable Dannii in Kylie’s video for ‘What Do I Have To Do’ which was released at the start of 1991; she is wearing a blonde bobbed wig.
In March 1991, the UK got its first taste of Dannii the popstar when she released ‘Love and Kisses’ with a slightly more dancey, euro-friendly remix than originally released in Australia. With her dark hair and more street style of clothing and dance moves, Dannii was instantly different from her big sis. The track peaked at No.8 on the Official UK Singles Chart and here she is showing off her moves on Going Live:
She followed up ‘Love and Kisses’ with ‘Success’; a song all about the trappings of fame. A real funky number with Dannii in full sassy mode, it has a feel of Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul, much like many of the songs on the album. It can also boast being Dannii’s first co-write as she wrote the song with US producer Alvin Moody (Whitney Houston/Neneh Cherry). Interesting chart fact, ‘Success’ narrowly missed out on the Top 10, spending three weeks at No.11. In the second of those weeks, Kylie took the No.10 spot as a new entry with ‘Shocked’; a rare feat to have two sisters occupying consecutive chart positions in the same week. Here is Dannii performing the absolute banger at the annual Royal Variety Performance.
On 3rd June 1991, Dannii released ‘Love and Kisses’ the album, featuring the reworked versions of both the singles as well as slightly tweaked versions of the other eight album tracks from her Oz debut ‘Dannii’ plus two brand new songs. Both were in fact covers of 80s tracks, and both would follow as the next two UK singles.
First up in July 1991 was Dannii’s take on Stacey Lattisaw’s 1980 Top 3 hit ‘Jump To The Beat’. A disco romp, Dannii updated the sound for the 90s and added a rap, with remix and production from DMC’s Les Adams and his wife, alongside keyboardist and producer Andy Whitmore. It gave Dannii her second UK Top 10 single when it peaked at No.8 and here she is performing the track on Top of the Pops:
As single four, ‘Baby Love’ was reworked from the album version by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, who was famous for being the first house music act to score a UK No.1 with ‘Jack Your Body’ in 1987. The single version had a much more sophisticated feel to it compared to the sheer joy of the album version – personally I love them both!
Released in October 1991, ‘Baby Love’ was a cover of a track by US one-hit-wonder Regina Richards who scored a Billboard Top 10 in 1986. It was co-written by Madonna’s collaborator Stephen Bray (True Blue, Express Yourself and more) and was said to have been turned down by Madonna, and recorded by Regina who sounds very much like Madonna. Dannii’s version peaked at No.14 on the UK Singles Chart and here she is performing it at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party where she also picked up the award for Best New Act:
In December 1991, nearly a year to the day after she’d released it in Australia, Dannii released ‘I Don’t Wanna Take This Pain’ as the fifth and final single from ‘Love & Kisses’. Again a reworked version from the album, it just scraped in to the UK Singles Chart at 40 giving Dannii 5 top 40 UK hits from her debut album. The video features a model by the name of Ryan Lee who went on to star in ‘Home & Away’ as Alistair MacDougall – small world! Here’s Dannii singing it live on Wogan:
December also saw an extended version of the album, ‘Love and Kisses And…’ being released with single versions of ‘Baby Love’ and ‘I Dont Wanna Take This Pain’ plus bonus extended remixes of the first four singles. For some reason a couple of the tracks were moved around in the running order too.
So what about the rest of the album? It is chock full of funky, R&B and new jack swing inspired pop songs that definitely lend it more of an American feel and edge. Dannii talked in her autobiography ‘My Story’ about trying to get to the Bronx to meet with writer/producers Alvin Moody and Vinnie Bell and no yellow taxi would take them due to recent shootings. She was understandably petrified as a 17 year old in New York for the first time. However, Dannii clicked with the pair instantly and lived in Manhattan whilst recording the album at Greene Street Studio in the heart of SoHo.
One of the album highlights for me is ‘Party Jam’. With one of the opening lines, “Hey yo listen up, my name is Dannii. It’s time to get loose to my brand new jammy.”, the tone is set for a fun, uplifting track that does exactly what it says on the tin! Watch Dannii perform the track on Motormouth:
Elsewhere, songs like ‘Attitude’, ‘Call To My Heart’ and ‘Work’ give more of that new jack swing US flavour but, it’s not all a-double t-i-t-u-d-e that Dannii serves on this album, she also shows off her softer side on the ballads ‘So Hard To Forget’ and ‘True Lovers’. Have a listen to the latter below:
This album also has one of sister Kylie’s first co-writing credits as she penned the song ‘Love Traffic’ for Dannii. Speaking about the song in 1991, Dannii said, “She (Kylie) wrote a song for my album to say to everyone that the rumours weren’t true that we hated each other.” Listen to the upbeat track below:
As I said at the start of the piece, Dannii’s ‘Love and Kisses’ is probably my favourite Dannii album. There is something about the sound of the early 90s that is instantly nostalgic, yet still sounds fresh to me today. It may be more immature lyrically, but reflects what a 17/18 year old in the spotlight was going through, and ultimately has a carefree spirit throughout.
Stream ‘Love and Kisses’ now on Spotify:
Revisit some other classic pop albums:
Kylie Minogue – ‘Kylie’ and ‘Aphrodite‘
Christina Aguilera – ‘Bionic‘
Dannii Minogue – ‘Neon Nights‘
Madonna – ‘Music’
Sonia – ‘Everybody Knows‘
Eternal – ‘Always & Forever‘