31 Days of Faves: Kiki Dee Band – I’ve Got the Music In Me

#25 Kiki Dee Band – I’ve Got the Music In Me

When Kiki Dee joined Elton John‘s Rocket Records, a career that had been simmering since the mid 1960s took off. And 1974’s “I’ve Got the Music In Me” was the fuse that lit the fire.

Elton co-founded Rocket Records in 1973.  He quickly attracted Cliff Richard and Neil Sedaka into the fold, the latter enjoying a successful career comeback on the label. Nearly a dozen other artists came aboard.

Chief among them was Pauline Matthews a former backup singer for Dusty Springfield who had been finding fans on British pirate radio stations since the mid-1960s. Songwriter Mitch Murray dubbed her “Kiki Dee” shortly before she became the first white British artist to be signed to the Motown label. The relationship didn’t last long and Kiki was soon back on her side of the pond, singing cover versions of popular hits on the BBC in the days before BBC1 was allowed to play rock and roll.

It was when she attracted Elton’s attention that her career took off. John’s producer Gus Dudgeon took her into the studio and in 1974, her second single, “I’ve Got the Music In Me” made her a household name. The track’s appeal stems from the perfect blend of Kiki’s powerful voice with the ever increasing power of the rich backing track. There’s no place for her to hide in this one.

Without an instrumental break-up strain, Kiki is front and center from beginning to end, a performance she was just as adept at pulling off on stage as she was in the studio. “Ain’t got no trouble in my life,” seemed to fit the attitudes of Vietnam survivors who now found themselves free of The Draft and were searching a Billboard Hot 100 that seemed to be without a compass. While records like Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” and BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business” still rocked, Olivia Newton John was selling country crossover records, there were hints of the future disco sound in MFSB’s “The Sound of Philladelphia” and Barbara Streisand took home the number one record of the year with her them from the sound track of “The Way We Were”.

So when the bass and drum licks at the opening of “I’ve Got the Music In Me” came on the air, we naturally turned up the volume in anticipation of the slow burn and volcanic chorus we knew was coming next.

Kiki Dee’s biggest hit would happen when she stepped in at the last minute for an ailing Dusty Springfield to record a duet with her mentor. Elton and Kiki’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was a solid, worldwide number one in the summer of 1976. It proved to be the pinnacle of a career that simmered with potential for almost a decade before “I’ve Got the Music In Me” rocketed Kiki Dee to well deserved fame.