‘The Riddle’: Nik Kershaw Solves The Second Album Puzzle

The second album by the British singer-songwriter swiftly built on the success of his ‘Human Racing’ debut, released only nine months earlier.

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Nik Kershaw 'The Riddle' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Nik Kershaw 'The Riddle' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

One of the most skilfully-crafted albums of the British pop boom of the 1980s made its big entrance on November 10, 1984. The Riddle, the second LP release by British singer-songwriter Nik Kershaw, swiftly built on the success of his debut release Human Racing, which had appeared only nine months earlier.

By this time, Kershaw was a familiar visitor to both the British singles and album charts. After scoring a minor chart entry with “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” at the end of 1983, he broke big early in the new year with the irresistibly catchy “Wouldn’t It Be Good,” following it with the top 20 “Dancing Girls” and then a major No.2 success when that first chart entry was reissued. Human Racing, the album containing all those tracks, made No.5 in the UK.

It all set the scene for a big follow-up, and The Riddle didn’t disappoint. The title track, released as a single a month earlier, climbed to No.3, and the album peaked at No.8, also performing well around Europe, notably in Norway, with a Top 5 peak. It made No.113 in the States, although that was something of a step back from the No.70 peak of Human Racing.

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All the same, there were further rich pickings on the UK singles chart when both “Wide Boy” and “Don Quixote” made the Top 10. The Riddle, produced like its predecessor by Peter Collins, featured some notable guest contributors, including Level 42’s Mark King on “Easy,” short-term Squeeze member Don Snow, and future Paul McCartney band stalwart Paul “Wix” Wickens.

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“I’m not embarrassed about the fans I have now,” Kershaw told Smash Hits in September 1984. “Nobody who matters is going to look down on me because I’ve had girls throwing teddy bears at me. Anyway I’ve only bean here ten months and even my fans can only see the surface of me so far.

“That’s not their fault at all,” he continued. “I’m on stage, I’m on TV. They can’t possibly see and understand me as a normal human being. But I don’t worry about that too much. It’s changing all the time.”

Buy or stream The Riddle.

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