Sunday, February 21, 2016

ZARA-Head Over Heels (1988)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 21, 2016

Well, I've done it again—gotten hooked on another rare 80's pop jewel I've recently rescued from the depths of music oblivion! I've come across legions of artists from my favorite decade with some rather quirky names, but the German synthpop group that called itself ZARATHUSTRA has to be among the most bizarre I've come across in quite some time. ZARATHUSTRA—looked it up today and found out it has ties to a religion I'd never heard of before. I may not know anything about this Zoroastrianism or the religious beliefs practiced by its followers, but I do see myself religiously listening to ZARA's first and only English album, "Head Over Heels", for many years to come. What a delightfully entertaining hour-long plus of music the the twelve songs were for me—the hour being extended by about ten minutes as a result of me having to hit the replay button on a few of the songs whose pop greatness I needed to bask in a little longer. That elite few consists of the opening trio: the highly catchy opener, "White Man", followed by "Lovin' Makes The World" and the one attributed to the lady named "Beaujoulais" (is that French, I wonder?). But by no means does this signify that the rest of the songs on this album won't find themselves getting the same replay treatment in my continued listens following the conclusion of this review. The title track had me hooked and humming happily along both during the song and well after the song was over. And the title itself brought to mind the countless occurrences of the phrase 'head over heels' in my lifetime music-listening endeavors, including it serving as the title to a couple of memorable hits—from my favorite decade, of course—by TEARS FOR FEARS and THE GO-GO's. From that point forward is when I myself really started to fall 'head over heels' for this ZARA bunch! "Why Live In A Dream?" is highlighted by a majestic Olympic-sized introductory overture that emerges into one grand of an epic power ballad, one of the places on this album where the soaring voice of the band's lead singer truly dazzled me! Then from epic power ballads I went to the epic adventure that is "Fairytales", highlighted by the marching drum beats and the trumpets that break through the skippy rhythm the dreamy melody. Wonderful production that deserves to be applauded! Just as lovely of a tribute as "Beaujoulais" is Track #7's "Little Lily". Such a sunny, romantic air this bouncy little number has, as the songwriter who's got this Lily on his mind surely is, talking about dancing and hanging on to her all night. And just as lovely of a ballad as the title track are "Time Ahead" (this is the type of breezy, airy ballads that'll want to stay stuck inside my head for a long time) and the concluding piece, "Open Arms". Seems that every rare 80's pop jewel contains at least one special treat for me, but in the case, I got two with both "Passion Play" and "Sunshine Moon & Stars". The former combines a lively dance bounce with some cool opera singing in the main chorus (now that's something I don't get to hear a lot in music from my favorite decade!) whereas the latter teases with the beauty of an orchestral overture in the opening movement. So now that I've shared my honest beliefs about this "Head Over Heels" album, I wonder how many of you out there will become religious followers of ZARATHUSTRA as well?

1. White Man
2. Lovin' Makes The World
3. Beaujoulais
4. Head Over Heels
5. Why Live In A Dream?
6. Fairytales
7. Little Lily
8. Passion Play
9. Time Ahead
10. Sunshine Moon & Stars
11. Sleeping Beauty
12. Open Arms

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