Nik Kershaw responds to Riddle deluxe bonus track criticism

Nik Kershaw / The Riddle deluxe

Nik Kershaw has today defended his bonus track selection on the forthcoming reissue of his 1984 album The Riddle.

Fans had expressed dismay over the selection which omits a B-side from the era (Progress) and fails to include an extended remix of one of the album tracks (Wild Horses). Both of those issues are addressed specifically, and Nik’s comments can be read below: (link the actual post on his forum here)

From Nik..

“Regarding the ongoing, at times heated, debate on the track listing of the up and coming re-issue of “The Riddle”, here’s a few words of my own to throw in the pot.

Firstly, and contrary to popular belief, neither the “Human Racing” nor “The Riddle” re-issues were my idea. I became involved in order to oversee some kind of quality control. Historically, there have been several sub standard and Ill conceived compilations issued under Universal’s watch and I didn’t want another one of those cluttering up anybody’s shelf. Universal would have released this product regardless of my input. The recordings are their property and they’d have every right to do so.

That said, the final track listing is down to me. MCA Records were taken over by Universal and, after several changes of location, certain items have gone missing (hence the astonishing omission of “The Riddle” video on the Then and Now compilation DVD). I chose the tracks from a database supplied to me by Universal.

If I can address a few specific gripes that I’ve seen expressed:

1. The original recording of Wide Boy was never owned by MCA Records and therefore not available (not that I’d have a clue where to find a first generation copy).

2. The 12” “Remix” of Wild Horses was never any such thing. It was cobbled together by MCA whilst I was away on tour and without my knowledge. It was created by editing together sections from the half inch master of the backing track with the half inch master of the album version. No “Remixing” whatsoever was involved and, as such, I considered it pointless, a fraud and not worthy of a place on this album.

3. “Progress” is a dodgy performance of a mediocre song, badly recorded. Re-mastering it wouldn’t have helped – My song – My opinion – My choice to leave it off.

4. Some random interview that ended up as an extra track on a 12” B side – not in Universal’s library, therefore not available for this record

5. Every other “omission” noted, not in Universal’s library and therefore not available.

The Riddle re-mastered special expanded edition is released on August 12th 2013. It has a lot to commend it. The original album has never sounded so good and there are live versions of some of the tracks mixed by me and never heard before. If you like the track selection – buy it. If you don’t – here’s an idea – don’t.

Nik x”

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Still waiting for radio musicola and the works remasters. I have to wonder if the decision to leave wild horses and progress have helped to kill further issues. Love what a-ha is doing with all their reissues. Wish Universal would do the same for Nik Kershaw.

Jim Cayon

…..I’m hopeful that at LONG last – maybe even by next year, not only will both albums get the deluxe treatment but, be available in the States as downloads – haven’t EVER been able to figure out why UMG is SO adamant about holding them back from fans on this side of the pond nor never released singles from either in the U.S. or Canada, as they contain some of the man’s very finest recordings…..then again, there are OTHERS of their artists whose remastered songs have yet to be released for download (for example Styx, although two-thirds of a revitalized Grand Illusion, most badly in need of treatment otherwise, is on the 2-disc version of Icon…..)


I have CD copies of Radio Musicola (actually got 2 of these. a 1986 MCA UK Pressing ive had from reelase date which is actually (at this time) for sale from UK Seller on Discogs for ££24.50 inc P+P. {DMCG6016} and a 2004 MCA Music of America release {80100779, states Made on Demand in the UK), presently not for sale on Discogs, and The Works (1989 German Press with English & German Copyright Text around the perimeter of the disc and manufactured in Germany on the artwork, DMCF-3438, not presently for sale on Discogs) , both awesome albums and I agree they deserve the SDE (or at the very least remastered) treatment!

[…] The Riddle, from the album of the same name (recently reissued). This features the B-side that Nik doesn’t like anymore (Progress) so he left it off the recent deluxe […]

[…] There are no seven-inch remixes included here, and Kershaw (who put this together for Universal) has rather churlishly refused to include the 12-inch remix of Wild Horses that MCA put on the B-side of future 12-inch single When A Heart Beats because he hadn’t authorised it (and didn’t like it) at the time. You can read his comments around this here. […]

Nick Hawkins

I’ve added ‘The Riddle’ 2CD remastered edition to my collection and it sits nicely next to to Kershaw’s ‘Human Racing’ 2CD remastered release from 2011. The remastering is once again excellent and I’m thoroughly enjoying the album again.

As for the controversial second disc of ‘The Riddle’, I will add something which Kershaw failed to mention in his response to fans’ fears which was published on this site in July.

In the sleeve notes Kershaw reveals that he has updated the vocals in three of the six live at Hammersmith Odeon performances. He explains: “I was mystified as to why, whilst my excellent band was in Hammersmith, I seemed to be delivering my performance from a call centre in Mumbai. One visit to You Tube later I had the explanation; the dreaded head microphone. I was using one of the first. It was great when you wanted to run around like a deranged toddler on your new , expensive stage set for no perceivable artisitic reason but no good if you wanted to sing into it. For one thing, any words containing the letters ‘S’, ‘F’, ‘T’ or ‘P’ produced a sound only otherwise achieved by discharging a fire extinguisher in a public toilet. Another drawback was anything I wandered closer to got louder. Add to that the general low bandwith and out of phase, nasal quality and you’ll understand my pain. I was left with a choice; a) preserve the integrity of the recording and inflict the full horror on the world, or b) replace the vocal and save the planet.”

Kershaw’s decision was to re-record three of the six vocals in 2012 (‘Know How’, ‘You Might’ and ‘Wild Horses’). “The music business term for this process is ‘cheating’, ” he admits, adding, “I don’t know how I sleep nights.”

I’m guessing Kershaw kept this information back at the time of his response as he may not have wanted to cause more controversy. What do I think of the three tracks? Well, the vocals are better and certainly clearer and more polished than the other three live tracks (‘City of Angels’, ‘Roses’ and ‘Save The Whale’), although that’s not saying that those ones are bad. I would suggest that the vocals for the uptempo song ‘You Might’ probably benefit the most as I’m not sure if the concise delivery would have been possible mid-concert and in the moment. Do I feel cheated? No, not all. In fact, I’d say if you are going to re-record three, why not do the other three as well! The sound still sounds ‘live’, everything else bar the vocals are live. Even the audience screams are still there! All in all, a good second disc whatever the running order and overall I’m glad that the artist had the opportunity to put out what he wanted.

[…] about the apparently not very comprehensive bonus disc, Nik himself came out with a defiant ‘buy it, or don’t buy it’ stance. Remastered with an additional CD of twelve-inch mixes and live […]

Hadleigh Ford

Great to have a response from the man himself! What I took from that is that he has had an artistic input into the bonus disc and he’s tried to create a flow to the tracks. Maybe when we hear it we will be able to hear what Nik’s vision for the second disc is. Might be far better than just a throwaway chronological order and then live tracks chucked on the end. It also shows that he is taking some care with the project and wants it to be a good reflection and give good value to the fans. Sounds like without his input there would be NO live tracks so I’m grateful they will be there :-)
Again thanks to SDE for opening up the debate and allowing this to happen :)

Steven Roberts

Readers of this thread may like to know that a 2 disc re-release of The Riddle has been announced by HMV Japan for release in September.

What is interesting about this release is that it is *very* common for Japanese release to feature exclusive bonus tracks – so we may yet get an official CD release of the Wild Horses 12″?


I agree on the complaint over running order on disc 2. But my major concern is the quality of main album remaster. The classic example of crap remasters are Spandau’s Journey to glory 2CD and Duran Duran 1st album 2CD.

Steve Thorpe

I think some people are missing the point here regarding the “if you don’t – here’s an idea – don’t” comment from Nik. The man has a great sense of humour that makes him a breath of fresh air; far from being arrogant he was probably simply trying to lighten the mood. In the end it’s absolutely true that the original album remastered is surely the main reason to buy this release – previous masters from MCA in Japan even have sounded fairly flat. If this is like the Human Racing remaster it will be a sonic delight. Other tracks on Disc Two will only ever be considered a bonus as far as I’m concerned. Roll on Radio Musicola & The Works. Thanks for getting involved Nik – it’s great when artists such as yourself and Kim Wilde take the time to ensure a superior release!

Steven Roberts

I have to agree with mike (small m) here.

Whilst I appreciate Nik taking the time to respond to the criticism and comments, I still don’t agree with the decisions taken. I understand his comments regarding both Progress and the WH 12″ – but the fact remains that these tracks were released back in the day and were *enjoyed* by his fans.

And there’s the rub. Is Nik telling his fans they can’t have something on the new Riddle because he himself never liked it much in the first place?

Should’ve stayed in the can then, shouldn’t it?

I HATE revisionism in art – whether it’s Spielberg replacing the guns with walkie talkies in ET, Lucas endlessly dicking around with Star Wars – or Nik attempting to airbrush certain tracks from history.

Nik states “If you like the track selection – buy it. If you don’t – here’s an idea – don’t.” Just goes to show that one man’s robust reply is another man’s arrogant.

As someone who has enjoyed immensely Nik’s music over the years, I want this in my collection – if only to get a proper digital version of Don’t Lie (a most excellent B-side) to replace my vinyl rip. But you know what? It won’t any longer be a day one purchase for me – nope, I’ll wait to pick it up cheap second hand.

And that running order on disc 2 *still* sucks.

Gerry Forrester

Hey – the main thing to look forward to here is the remastered album – it’s a classic and this in itself is worth the purchase. This could quite easily have been a single disc release – so everything else is a bonus. The 7″ edits are not significantly different to worry about, and Progress can be found on the best of compilation. I’ll be making a loss-less rip to play back from iTunes as I imagine most of you will – so the running order of disc 2 is irrelevant. We’ve got the 12″ mixes of the singles so all in all I’m happy enough with this release (it’s the remaster I’ve waited SOOOO long for). I’ll be buying this for sure and recommending it too.

Jim Cayon

…..true enough about “Progress” – which is a favorite of mine as well – and, like “Dark Glasses” as well as “She Cries”, a satisfactory mix (especially for the mid-Nineties) is indeed featured on The Best Of Nik Kershaw, for many years one of my most prized possessions, if ONLY for finally making the extended version of “Wouldn’t It Be Good” digitally available…..


I think point #5 covers all of the gripes here…if it’s not available for consideration, it’s not available.


Hey guys. Look at the big picture. At least it’s happening and Nik himself took the time to give a fairly honest and straightforward explanation as to what is and what isn’t ! We’ve been waiting for this to happen and now that it is we can easily live with a few imperfections. What’s the other option ? Don’t release it at all ??? how many 80s reissues are there out there that are perfectly compiled to please everyone and not subject to the “loudness factor”…..

John M

Actually, it is his reissue, seeing as he’s overseeing it, so he can decide what goes on it. Fair play to him for his perfectly reasonable response; whilst not 100% mad on the track listing of CD 2, what he says all makes sense and he’s far from arrogant…


part of me wants to congratulate him, part of me thinks he is really arrogant. Cant work out which one to side with..

I think he’s missing the point really and who the market is – this isnt his reissue, its for the people who follow him and like it or not there are people who like Wild Horses 12 and Progress. he should accept that. I cant stand Don Quixote, that doesnt mean I want it taken off The Riddle main CD :) Share for all Nik.


Well, considering he’s only 2′ 6″ he’s not taking any shit, is he?

Good on him for robust replies.


The main gripes, at least on SDE (I don’t frequent the Nik forum), were the bizarre interspersion of live recordings across CD2, rather than having them sequenced together, and the absence of 7″ remixes (Don Quixote, Wide Boy). Never knew anything about an “original mix” of Wide Boy, and the other omissions discussed were pretty obscure to begin with.

But credit to him for setting the record straight from his point of view. I still think CD2 ought to have kept live and studio recordings separate, and those single versions should be on there (when they were on Then & Now not long ago). I’m surprised he wanted it the way it’s ended up!

Jim Cayon

…..regarding the original master of “Wide Boy”: I have three different MP3 versions as of today and, eliminating the foreshortened Then And Now single version, even the deluxe edition at 3:28 sounds as though it’s missing a quite specific element to these ears, one I’ve prob instinctively waited for every time since the Eighties / Nineties: seems as though the high synth notes shouldn’t accompany the verse guitar hook again after emerging from the first chorus, until it first repeats…..


Perfectly good explanation as far as i’m concerned, good on you Mr. Kershaw!


Incidentally, the standard 12″ version of King for a Day by Thompson Twins has a Re-edit by Tom Bailey credit.


Well that puts it fairly straight! I appreciate the explanation – and agree with his assessment of Progress (aside from the performance, which I’m not in a position to judge.) I can see where he’s coming from with Wild Horses, although we don’t have the backing track out there seperately so I still see it as a valid, if not amazing, inclusion. I wonder if the “not available” bit also covers the missing 12″ mixes from Human Racing?


Still doesn’t explain the alternating live/studio recording track-listing aberration on the second disc.