Take Care is very much a pop album, and a late '80s pop album at that. Both the sound and programming of the drum machines, along with much of the instrumentation, is a product of that age and, as such, Take Care sounds dated. However, if you can get over this you will find a number of great pop songs that would challenge anything Lewis was involved in until embarking on the He Said Omala and Hox outings.
The album starts with four perfect slices of pop, the best of which is ABC Dicks Love. The narrative typifies a simpler way of working that puts Take Care so far ahead of Hail: 'Time on my wrist/Faces to twist/Without any reason/The seasons exist'—simple and perhaps ambiguous, but containing substance and meaning. Musically, like much of the album, the track is seemingly fairly standard disco-pop, but with Lewis' usual skew adding layers of texture and odd rhythms in the background. Tongue Ties is another classic that contains a whole selection of great rhythms, riffs, and an utterly fantastic chorus.
Experimentation also exists with two instrumental pieces, Half Way House and Get Out of that Rain—both commissioned for the Michael Clark performance, Because we Must. The former is a brooding piece and contains a beautifully rendered guitar line. Production-wise, it ends up sounding rather like what New Order would attempt a few years later with Republic's slower tracks. Get Out of that Rain borders on the orchestral, acting as a useful counterpoint to the drum-based tracks by being inherently strings-led.
Unsurprisingly, a couple of seriously dodgy tracks lurk, notably the utterly horrible Not a Soul, which sounds like a bad Bryan Ferry tune and the noisy Hole in the Sky, which reminded me of the Sisters of Mercy.
However, these are in the minority. This is a surprisingly good release, and is enhanced on CD by several extra tracks, including improved mixes of Could You?, ABC Dicks Love, and impressive He Said:She Said.
Craig Grannell (March, 2000)