Tell Me Why is a muscular, confident number driven along by some powerful drums. Spiteri's voice sounds like someone else but I can't put my finger (or ear) on who it is. It's annoying when that happens. Everyday Now is a slow burning, soulful rock number with hints of Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders about it. It is also slightly hijacks the refrain from Bob Dylan and The Band's I Shall Be Released in the "everyday now"/("any day now") line. It is a good track, this one. Nice blues harmonica solo too. Southside is a magnificent, bluesy offering, full of Chris Rea-esque slide guitar. Proper blues rock. One of the best tracks on the album. Even though it is a short instrumental! If only it were longer. It is unnecessarily cut short.
is an evocative, slow burning and seductive number, with more of those Americana influences bubbling beneath the surfaces in the shape of subtle, jangling guitars. Once more, there is quite a bit of U2 floating around in this, and Deacon Blue. This Will All Be Mine has a moody, Southern swamp blues intro and a mysterious, deep vocal. It is packed full of atmosphere. I am surprised that this album did not get more critical praise than it did. It slipped under the radar somewhat. Beliefs is a muscular piece of buzzy guitar rock, with a dark ambience and sonorous vocal. Alone With You is a chunky, gospel-influenced soul song, with big choruses and twangy slide guitar over a metronomic, robust drum beat.
Rick's Road was Texas's third album, and it has received a certain amount of criticism from various reviewers I have read, comparing it unfavourably to the two following albums, both of which were huge sellers. These people have had problems with the fact that it is a blues rock album and not a commercially-oriented poppy one, whereas for me it is the exact opposite - it is powerful, rocking and full of quality blues guitar, drums and harmonica. This, as far as I am concerned, is Texas at their best, before they went all programmed drums, and "contemporary" pop soul sounds.
Sharleen Spiteri's vocals display her full range - from gritty and bluesy to surprisingly flexible and high-pitched. The girl could sing the blues, there is no doubt about that, and her performance on this album puts me in mind of subsequent female bluesers like Susan Tedeschi and Grace Potter.
White On Blonde (1997)
This is where Texas went from being a blues rock, slightly "cult" band to being a blue-eyed soul-pop one before our very ears, utilising contemporary dance beats, programmed drums, synthesised strings, artificial scratching noises and the like. as far as I am concerned, despite being full of really catchy and melodic songs (just as the previous album was), something was lost due to the muffled, dense and murky sound that was delivered in order to satisfy the tastes of Radio Two chart-oriented listeners. The difference in clarity (negatively) between this and the previous offering was seismic.
I just cannot get on with the sound on this one at all. Even on the faux Motown-Northern Soul of the "earworm" singalong hit single, Black Eyed Boy, there is an overall muddiness that detracts from it. Those synthesised strings sound awful. The same accusation can be levelled at the album's other big hits, Say What You Want and the scratchy White On Blonde.
It is a shame, as far as I am concerned, because there are some fine songs on here, they are just blighted by a sound and production that is just not to my taste. I have always been a "real instruments" man. Those thumping programmed drums just don't do it for me, I'm afraid. Sharleen' s voice has no bluesy grit to it anymore, either, just slick, soulful female chart pop tones. She has changed her method of vocal delivery completely, for the worse in my opinion.
The Hush (1999)
Now, I have laid my criticisms on thick over the sound of the previous album, backing-wise but there is an improvement here. Although the group use the same contemporary sounds as on the previous outing, there is a crisper, clearer production to the sound that renders it more appealing to me.
The tracks are all good ones too, especially the Black Eyed Boy re-write of When We Are Together (although this does suffer from the same muffled production), the Diana Ross-sounding Day After Day and two other great singles in In Our Lifetime and Summer Son. The Hush is probably the track that best exemplifies Texas's sound in this period.
There is also quite a lot of hints of later era Deacon Blue on this album's sound, which, if you have read my reviews of those albums, you will know I do not necessarily think is a good thing. It's about the production there too.
|The Pretenders||Deacon Blue||Diana Ross|