Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Chris Rea - On The Beach (1986)

Just passing through....


Released on 1 April 1986

Running time 48:40

After the Springsteen-esque Shamrock Diaries, Chris Rea diversified a little on this one, creating that relaxed, easy-listening ambience that would come to be something many people associated him with to the expense of his more rocky, bluesy material. This is archetypal slow and reflective "adult"  Chris Rea. There are lots of listeners around who want nothing more from him. Forget his searing slide guitar, just give us On The Beach. As often the case with Chris Rea over the years, though, you feel he doesn't quite know which direction to take. This was definitely the start of his "easy listening/AOR" period. This is very much an album for a hot afternoon or a lazy late summer night.


1. On The Beach
2. Little Blonde Plaits
3. Giverny
4. Lucky Day
5. Just Passing Through
6. It's All Gone
7. Hello Friend
8. Two Roads
9. Light Of Hope
10. Auf Immer Und Ewig                                  

As with many Chris Rea albums, there is one absolute killer track on it. Here it is the sumptuous On The Beach which has been recorded several times by Rea. This one is probably the best, its syncopated jazzy rhythms played slightly slower and that summery bossa nova feel coming across utterly irresistibly. Rea's voice is as warm as a summer's afternoon on this. It is one of his finest moments. Some sound effects of waves gently lapping on the shore lead into the similarly laid-back Little Blonde Plaits. The soporific, gently hypnotic vibe continues on the beautiful Giverny, which breaks out into a lovely, rhythmic number a minute or so in.

Lucky Day doesn't up the pace either, being similarly slow in pace and featuring some delicious Spanish guitar. Its influence is vaguely Latin in places. The guitarist in Rea is never far from the surface however, and some excellent playing enhances the sleepy Just Passing Through. Some classically-influenced piano makes an interjection as well.

The old "side two" begins with some upbeat eighties synth pop/rock with the album's liveliest number so far in It's All Gone. Despite its liveliness, it is no Stainsby Girls or Steel River. It has a serious message about the decline of Rea's home town of Middlesbrough. That gets a bit lost in the poppy backing, unfortunately. It is over seven minutes long and features some excellent instrumental improvisation at the end. Hello Friend is a moving Rea heartbreaker. He does this sort of thing so well, so sensitively.

Two Rounds has some funky guitar and brass and a solid beat and is slightly more punchy than a lot of the album's material. Both Light Of Hope and Auf Immer Und Ewig (Forever And Ever) see a return to the slow, reflective pace of most of the album. Although this album barely gets beyond walking pace, it is still a pleasant listen.


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