Thursday, 6 June 2019

Chris Rea - Tennis (1980)

Every time I see you smile....


Released in 1980

Running time 49:54

This was Chris Rea's third album and he was beginning to experiment with longer songs and find a bit of his identity, after the West Coast style rock of his debut and the very Elton John-influenced follow up. It was all still very removed from any of the contemporary musical trends of the time, however, and consequently did not do very well. Once again, though, it has not been remastered and suffers from poor sound.


1. Tennis
2. Sweet Kiss
3. Since I Don't See You Anymore
4. Dancing Girls
5. No Work Today
6. Every Time I See You Smile
7. For Ever And Ever
8. Good News
9. Friends Across The Water
10. Distant Summers
11. Only With You                                    
12. Stick It

The title track suffers from some awful sound and never quite gets out of its funk/rock rut, really. It has a bit of a feel of Ace's "How Long" about it, though. I am not quite sure of the relevance of the "do you like tennis" Yes I do" chorus. In fact the whole song is weird, lyrically. Better is the deep, bluesy "Sweet Kiss" with its solid brass parts and swampy bassline. That recognisable Rea slide guitar enhances the rack considerably. "Since I Don't See You Anymore" has a slightly Mexican/Texas vibe to it, and a bit of a Mavericks feel. "Dancing Girls" is similarly melodic and poppy.

"No Work Today" is a jaunty little instrumental. The Elton John influence had not gone forever, though, and reappears on the soulful piano-driven ballad "Every Time I See You Smile". The track ends with some excellent guitar and backing vocals interplay. Actually, the punchy "For Ever And Ever" has a horn-driven upbeat Elton John feel to it as well. "Good News" is a soulful, gospelly groove with a slightly Southern bluesy beat to it.

"Friends Across The Water" is a light, summery, semi-reggae instrumental followed by a plaintive ballad in "Distant Summers". "Only With You" sees Rea adopting that gruff voiced vocal merged with a melodic tune that would serve him so well in subsequent years. Here, he is doing it for pretty much the first time. "Stick It" is another Elton John-style track, like something from the "Caribou" era, so maybe that had not completely left Rea's music for good just yet. He was getting to the point where he was beginning, slowly, to carve out his own identity. He was not quite there yet, however.


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