Cool, smooth, urbane, and rocking, and that’s not just Bernard Binns, but the music of The Helicopters, too. Bernard is not only a rocker, but a melodist who can craft nice hooky songs as well.

Many musicians were Choppers (John Mason, Piet Koen, Franco de Nuzzo, Martin Ledger, Carole Welsh, Bert Askes, Macjek Scheibel, Andre van der Heever, Paul Hughes, Nick Matzukis, and Alastair Broadhead), and some may have been with the band from the Vereeniging beginning, but front man Bernard Binns lived through it all, and he wrote all these songs.

On this Retro Fresh release you get twelve studio cuts and two live tracks of excellent Eighties rock (For me, music doesn’t become dated like haircuts; I consider the musical era as another stylistic aspect when seeking something to match my mood).

Talk about radio-friendly, the first time I heard ‘Mysteries and Jealousy’ on the ‘Sharp Cuts’ series I was singing along halfway through, then for two days after had the song for a mind lodger.

‘Watch Out’ (Live, and Bernard tells the audience right, this is a rocker). ‘Kissing for Pleasure’ a sweet rock song, without being cloying. ‘Whisper Your Secrets’ is another stays in one’s mind. ‘Come and Dance’, races almost frenetically. These and ten other songs fill this CD with classic and, for the most part, energetic synth pop rock.

Most of the songs are up-tempo movers, crowd pleasers, with a few slower numbers to please the lovers wanting to dance close. The lyrics sometimes repeat a tad long in the fade, but remain pleasurable listening. Pleasurable instrumental surprises await, as well.

I’m not deliberately leaving out the other Choppers musos, but it’s easy to think of Binns as the consistent force in the band because, well, because he was. ‘The Best of the Helicopters’ and Binns’s solo ‘Physiognomy of the Soul’ (an excellent work of wide rock range, from gentle to hardest rocking songs) make a good double bill.

‘The Best of the Helicopters’ is another valuable, and fun, Retro Fresh release. Binns started out talented and polished, has matured as an artist, and can still be occasionally caught in concert. Cool, smooth, urbane, and rocking, of course.



Kurt Shoemaker, Blanco, Texas

I was listening to ‘Mysteries and Jealousies’ a while back and I was stuck with the fact that here was a perfectly excellent tune, you can dance to it, the melody sticks in my head, I give it a 10 as they used to say on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand show about a song’s dance-ability, it is perfectly in keeping with the radio style of its day, and yet it was not picked up for UK or USA release. I felt the frustration in small degree SA musicians must feel, to work so hard and create something so perfectly hit-worthy, and to succeed with it in one’s own country, but not far beyond.

– Kurt Shoemaker, Texas, January 2000