It was the project that should have re-launched Sheena Easton's glittering career in spectacular style. After a decade of declining sales and increasingly obscure material, Sheena decided to ditch the ballads that comprised most of her 90s output and focus on the dancefloor. While hardly original, the plan made great sense. Dance music is fast becoming the retirement village of struggling gay icons, ageing divas and fading stars. When the rest of the industry no longer takes them seriously, these lovely ladies can always be assured of finding some solace in the clubs. "Fabulous" was Sheena's desperate grab for the pink dollar and I'm still surprised by its failure. If ever an album lives up to its title, then this is it.
I suspect that "Fabulous" was heavily inspired by Cher's stunningly successful "Believe" album. Like Cher, Sheena's pop pedigree can not be faulted. As one of the true stars of the 1980s, Sheena delivered some of the most enduring and memorable hits of that decade and established herself as a pop culture icon with her Bond anthem and appearances on "Miami Vice". Again like Cher, who worked with Xenomania, Sheena turned to the holy diva of dance - Dannii Minogue - for inspiration and teamed up with long time Dannii collaborators, Tezza and Ian Masterson! If that recipe isn't enticing enough, then the tracklist of disco classics should have ensured a hit record. Sadly, the first single stiffed worldwide and the second single was only released in Japan. Sheena's comeback was over before it started, much to disappointment of tragic queens the world over.
As a huge Sheena Easton fan, I am undoubtedly biased but I still think "Fabulous" makes for an exceedingly entertaining listen. Yes, the album positively reeks of desperation. I can also admit that the song selection is unimaginative and, with all due respect to Dannii's ingenious "hit" makers, I grant that some of the production is less than inspired. But whatever its flaws, there is no denying that "Fabulous" is a shitload of fun and the holy grail of craptastic dance music! The album begins with a fairly insipid cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way", before getting into full swing with the first single "Giving Up, Giving In". "Giving Up, Giving In" is a truly gorgeous offering and the remixes were suitably hot. Obviously, the buying public was simply not ready for this much fabulousness. The next song, a cover of "Love Is In Control" was touted as a single and remixes were commissioned by Almighty. Needless to say, Almighty and Sheena is a match made in pop trash heaven!
"That's What Friends Are For" is followed by fantastic covers of "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Best Of My Love". Just when you think that "Fabulous" can not get any gayer, Sheena teams up with Tezza to duet on a truly wondrous cover of Burt Bacharach's "On My Own". The outstanding production and vocals make for one of the album's finest moments. I'm not as taken with Sheena's version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", which was an odd selection for the second single in Japan. While the album version is slightly dull, the remixes are excellent and breathe some much needed life into the song.
"Fabulous" ends on a high with two Tezza/Ian Masterson penned songs. "You Never Gave Me The Chance" is a sweetly sung ballad, while "Get Here To Me" enchants with a gorgeous trumpet solo before transforming into dancefloor stomper. I bet Dannii was jealous when she first heard it! I've also included the Japanese bonus track, a cover of Teena Marie's brilliant disco classic "I Need Your Lovin'".
I firmly believe that "Fabulous" belongs in every self-respecting homo's record collection. The album turns up regularly on Ebay and is still available at Amazon. It really is time for Sheena to launch another comeback. The music scene is infinitely less fun without her.