Friday, 7 June 2019

Chris Rea - Chris Rea (1982)


Released February 1982

Running time 42:55

This was Chris Rea’s fourth album. In the late seventies/early eighties his albums, and indeed Rea himself, were strange things. They were totally out of sync with any other music at the time, really. Think about early 1982-new romanticism, post punk, eighties pop were all around. Rea’s brand of pop/rock had been through a US and then an Elton John phase, and this one was a bit US-influenced but in a smooth, soulful sort of AOR way. All of these styles just didn’t really mean much to the UK scene in 1982. Elton John was old hat, yet to be reborn as a national treasure, and US music was more likely to be of the REO Speedwagon type or Fleetwood Mac (admittedly half British but you know what I mean). Rea’s wine bar style, laid-back, melodic easy going rock and his somewhat ordinary, unprepossessing image just wasn’t really registering yet. It would, within a few years, but not yet. So, this album went right under the radar, which was a shame, as it is really good. It is immaculately played, with a soully appeal lacking in his previous offerings and it contains a collection of impressive songs .


1. Loving You
2. If You Choose To Go
3. Guitar Street
4. Do You Still Dream?
5. Every Beat Of My Heart
6. Goodbye Little Columbus
7. One Sweet And Tender Touch
8. Do It For Your Love
9. Just Want To Be With You
10. Runaway
11. When You Know That Love Died              

“Loving You” is pretty typical of the album’s material - full of that easy going vibe, soulful vocals and a bassy beat straight out of Ace, from the mid seventies. That “How Long” bassline is even more pronounced on the lovely tones of “If You Choose To Go”. This is actually really good stuff, but it is easy to see how it just didn’t cut the mustard back in early 1982. Give it a few years .
The mood changes as Rea shows he can rock out on the slide guitar-driven riffy power of “Guitar Street”. Then it is back to the  gentle strains of “Do You Still Dream?”, a very Rea-esque number of the sort that would characterise his subsequent work. “Every Beat Of My Heart” is a smoochy, romantic number that, if only this album had been heard by more people, would have made it on to many “first dance” requests at weddings.

“Goodbye Little Colombus” eventually breaks out into a very catchy mid-pace rock number. If Billy Joel had put this out, it no doubt would have been a huge hit. “One Sweet And Tender Touch” is a soul-style ballad. It features a nice saxophone solo. “Do It For Your Love” is a very eighties, Fleetwood Mac-ish song. “Just Want To Be With You” is one of my favourites. The melody and delivery has a bit of a Springsteen feel to it. If you thought that Elton John influence had been left behind on the yellow brick road, think again, it is there on the appealing “Runaway”. Rea often ends his albums on a moving, evocative ballad, and he does here on “When You Know That Love Died”. It is enhanced by a superb slide guitar solo.

This was Rea’s best album thus far, although his previous ones were all ok, he was carving out his own identity more on this one. It just needed a few years to be part of the milieu.


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