Celebrating the 40 years since ‘New Song’ was released as his debut single, High Wycombe’s most famous son releases a career spanning boxed set ‘Celebrate It Together’ to gather “The Very Best Of Howard Jones 1983-2023”.

Released on Cherry Red Records, ‘Celebrate It Together’ has been personally curated by Howard Jones into four categories: “Popular Hits”, “Electro”, “Chill” and “Curiosities”; it’s a mix and match of hits, remixes, album tracks, live versions and alternative recordings but with running order very much in mind. The set also comes with a fully illustrated booklet featuring a new interview with Howard Jones reflecting on his four decade career.

The “Popular Hits” are all present and correct, with reminders that catchy numbers such as ‘New Song’, ‘What Is Love?’, ‘Pearl In The Shell’, ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’ and ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ were many a young music fans entry point into the world of synthpop.

While ‘Look Mama’ is an example that not everything he did was of an equal standard, ‘Always Asking Questions’ which was initially the new track inclusion on ‘The 12” Album’ EP in late 1984 is an enjoyable curio from the ‘Human’s Lib’ era. Meanwhile from 1989’s ‘Cross That Line’, the reggae-inflected ‘Everlasting Love’ deserved a higher UK chart placing than No62.

From his most recent long player ‘Dialogue’, ‘Celebrate It Together’ is bouncy and immediate but 2005’s ‘Just Look At You Now’ with its ‘New Song’ lyrical references is superb and shows that Howard Jones’ songwriting abilities did not diminish over the years.

‘No One Is To Blame’ and ‘Hide & Seek’ are naturally popped onto the “Chill” volume and are among Howard Jones’ best ballads, but 2022’s ‘Formed By The Stars’ gives them a run for their money with its absorbing cacophony of electronics. The reflective ‘Will You Still Be There?’ from 1986’s Arif Mardin produced ‘One To One’ album is a welcome addition as an often overlooked item in the HoJo canon while ‘Sleep My Angel’ and ‘Someone You Need’ represent the sensitive piano side.

The “Electro” collection provides an opportunity for those who loved ‘Human’s Lib’ and ‘Dream Into Action’ but perhaps left the fan fold when Howard Jones began tailoring his sound for Trans-Atlantic audiences, to catch up with his recent electronic work such as ‘The One To Love You’, one of three collaborations from 2019’s ‘Transform’ with noted veteran dance producer BT.

The superb 2005 club-flavoured ‘Revolution Of The Heart’ from the album of the same name is undoubtedly a highlight while another is ‘Eagle Will Fly Again’ from ‘Transform’. ‘The Human Touch’ from 2015’s tech-themed ‘Engage’ captures a stomping synthetic spike that perhaps wasn’t so apparent in Howard Jones’ imperial phase while 2022’s ‘Who You Really Want To Be’ is similarly energetic.

Among the “Curiosities”, many will delight in the previously unreleased medley collage ‘Overture 2’, the self-explanatory ‘Havana Version’ of ‘Collective Heartbeat’ and the stark piano cover of David Bowie’s haunting epitaph ‘Lazarus’ recorded live at Siyan. Meanwhile 1997’s ‘Angels & Lovers’ from the Japanese only release of the same name is a good song that is deservedly rescued and if there is the desire to hear Howard Jones pay homage to STEELY DAN, that comes with a fairly identikit but enjoyable cover of Donald Fagen’s ‘IGY (International Geophysical Year)’.

With his continued optimistic worldview, Howard Jones remains a distinctive and recognisable artist with a wide range of styles and these are all represented on ‘Celebrate It Together’. If you have enjoyed any of his work over the past 40 years, there is something for you here. And even if you don’t like everything compiled in this set, what cannot be denied is the quality of this anthology.

In the booklet message to his fans, Howard Jones says: “I hope you enjoy this journey through the different phases of my career. Thanks for sticking with me throughout them and for being so open-minded and enthusiastic. There’s much more to come. I’m nowhere close to being done yet!”

‘Celebrate It Together’ is released as 4CD boxed set by Cherry Red Record on 6 October 2023, abridged double vinyl LP and double CD variants are also available, pre-order via https://www.cherryred.co.uk/artist/howard-jones/

Howard Jones 40th Anniversary 2023 UK tour with special guests BLANCMANGE includes:

Leicester De Montfort Hall (6 October), Birmingham Symphony Hall (7 October), Cambridge Corn Exchange (9 October), Manchester Bridgewater Hall (10 October), York Barbican Centre (11 October), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (13 October), Newcastle City Hall (14 October), Cardiff St David’s Hall (16 October), London Palladium (17 October), Southend Cliffs Pavilion (18 October)





Text by Chi Ming Lai
3 October 2023