Picks and Pans Review: Whenever You Need Somebody

updated 02/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Rick Astley

Bar the door, Katie. Here comes another of those suave young English soul boys. This one's dangerous. Astley is already a hit in Europe and if he gets a toehold here, he's just catchy enough to pillage some American hearts and ears. Astley, a native of Newton-le-Willows, was helped to instant notoriety by the molten British production triumvirate of Mike Stock-Matt Aitken-Pete Waterman, who have worked with such export commodities as Dead or Alive and Bananarama. They provide the singer with relentless arrangements that barrel along on turbocharged bass lines. They also wrote half the music, including two winning songs of old-fashioned romantic devotion, Never Gonna Give You Up and Together Forever. Astley himself is another question. At his best, he sounds like a glum Michael McDonald, with a voice that's mostly surface appeal. At this point Astley, 21, lacks dimension. While he's surprisingly convincing on the lush, old Nat Cole ballad When I Fall in Love, the album's style is patently derivative. Probably it's best to consider the LP a letter of introduction to the American listening public. (RCA)

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