Personnel: Geoff Barradale, Annie McCaig, Sandy McLelland (vocals); David Rhodes (guitar); Simon House (violin); Ross Cullum (keyboards); Jerry Marotta (drums, drum programming).
Audio Remixer: Dave Bascombe.
Arrangers: Jerry Marotta; Ann Dudley.
The soulful, raspy voice and aching lyrics of Geoff Barradale on Vitamin Z's "Burning Flame" helped the song become of 1985's standout singles, and it almost outclasses everything else on the band's debut LP, Rites of Passage. There's nothing musically innovative about "Burning Flame," but it should make every list of the '80s finest moments. Sung with unrestrained passion, Barradale almost sounds a male version of Alison Moyet as he details the pain of seeing an ex-lover with somebody else. The subject matter is nothing new, but the scorched emotions in Barradale's vocals can be deeply felt. A track like "Burning Flame" can summarize an artist's career; for Vitamin Z, however, there are other songs on Rites of Passage that can easily justify the group's existence. "Every Time That I See You" is another heartbreaking ballad, probably about the same person Barradale is yearning for in "Burning Flame." "Hi Hi Friend" is upbeat synth-pop with sharp, hummable hooks. The lyrics in Rites of Passage are simple and straightforward; they are most effective in how they are sung, not written. When Barradale sings, "I felt the Earth fall apart and crumble/all my dreams, down they fell" in "Burning Flame," the sorrow in his voice is deeply moving. Rites of Passage is worth seeking out for that song alone, but anybody expecting just a one-hit wonder might find a surprise or two. ~ Michael Sutton