Sunday, 11 October 2009

1989 Jason Donovan: Sealed With A Kiss

Very much the junior partner in Minogue & Donovan Ltd in that when they weren't recycling their own songs for him, Stock, Aitken and Waterman were happy enough to serve Donovan up with a warmed over cover version.

Though not the original, "Sealed with a Kiss" is most closely associated with Brian Hyland's 1962 cover. It's a straight teen tear jerker all about how the school summer holidays will drive a wedge between the singer and his girl until September rolled round with a new term to bring them together. Sweet. I remember the feeling. Carol King did a similar thing with 'It Might As Well Rain Until September' too.

As you could probably guess, Donovan adds no personal stamp that makes it a 'Jason Donovan song' instead of a cover version. In fact, his version takes more away than it adds; the song is what it is, and there's something amusingly cynical about releasing it just as the schools were breaking up for the hols, but this time it comes with the musty smell of mothballs, as if Donovan has bought someone else's demob suit from Oxfam and it doesn't quite fit and isn't quite clean.

"Sealed with a Kiss" is very much a song of it's time, and the UK in 1989 was not America in 1962. I know I never went to school with anybody who lived further than five miles away - certainly close enough to declare my love over the summer by catching a bus or taking a brisk walk anyway. And in the age of the telephone, it must have seemed a bit anachronistic to want write a letter every single day when you could have at least chatted with not really that much effort. Maybe catchment areas are different in America, or that Jason wasn't really that lovestruck at all. Maybe. And maybe I'm over analysing a bit too much. Definitely!

But whatever, nobody seemed to query it and Donovan sounds happy enough to let it lie by just getting on with things in his usual strained and breathless way without dragging it out too long. You've got to love that cover picture though, it looks like the designers were in two minds about whether to have a shot of him puckering up or not. In their indecision, they've gone for a halfway house moment which is no doubt meant to portray Jase as a smouldering lovegod but instead looks like they've caught the very first signs of shock and surprise as somebody out of shot below plants a kiss on his seal. Oh well.

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