Smiths Complete - Available at Rhino.coma-ha "Hunting High & Low" and "Scoundrel Days" Deluxe Editions Rhino Handmade raids the vault!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"don't worry daddy, i'll have her home at a respectable hour"

I’m not scared – I’ll come right out and say it.

Rick Springfield is one of power pop’s unsung heroes and should be held up right next to your Eric Carmens, Matthew Sweets and Alex Chiltons.


While he’s primarily known for his impressive string of hits in the ‘80s, Springfield actually got started in the early ‘70s, scoring his first Top 40 hit, “Speak to the Sky”, in 1972. Some lean years and a gig as an animated Saturday morning cartoon character on “Mission Magic” followed, until Rick scored a gig on ABC’s “General Hospital” as Dr. Noah Drake. This just happened to coincide with the release of his “Working Class Dog” album, a record that front to back is packed with power pop classics, like “Jesse’s Girl”, “I’ve Done Everything For You” (written by Sammy Hagar), and my favorite, “Love Is Alright Tonight”.

"Love Is Alright Tonight" has some seriously evil lyrics, especially coming from a heavily promoted "teen idol":

Don’t worry daddy, I’ll have her home at a respectable hour
Go to sleep daddy, you won’t think about tonight
With the night comes a feeling of incredible power
Gonna love her daddy, she’ll be feeling it tonight...

Oh, Rick. You scamp.

There’s no “guilty” modifier to be added to the pleasure in these songs – they’re three to three and a half minutes of well-composed, tightly played power pop. Springfield’s fluffy teen idol image overshadowed the work at the time, but listen to these songs now and they hold up. Timeless. You can put on “Love Is Alright Tonight” and crank it, whether it’s 1981 or 2005. In fact, I often do.

Now, if Rick made any mistakes in his career, it was jumping on the movie gravy train and getting a bit overexposed via his starring vehicle, “Hard to Hold.” And musically, he started to veer away from the four-piece guitar-based ensemble and experiment with synths. A LOT of synths. Songs like “Human Touch”, “Celebrate Youth” and “Rock of Life” are oozing with dated swooshes, bleeps and bloops. But even in this keyboard-heavy later period, Rick could pull out a stunning, deceptively simple song like “State of the Heart”.

Rick is still recording today, and even had a sizeable Adult Contemporary hit last year called “Beautiful You”. But track for track, you won’t find anything as powerful as the one-two punch of the “Working Class Dog” and “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” albums. These two need some serious remastering and reissuing.

And power pop history needs to recognize Rick.

Download “Love Is Alright Tonight”.
Download “State of the Heart”.

Buy Rick Springfield CDs here.

”Love Is Alright Tonight” peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982.
“State of the Heart” peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 chart in 1985.
posted by John, 4:01 PM | link |

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"now is the time / to call the doctor!"

Miss me?

Sorry about that. Work took me out of the loop for a good two weeks, but I’m back now and rarin’ to go with a bunch of posts. Let’s get started.

I’m not going to ramble on and on about the genius that is DEVO. Let’s assume my readers are hip and musically sophisticated enough to know all the background – bred in Akron, Ohio, conceptualized the concept of de-evolution (“we must repeat”), groundbreaking videos and albums, blah, blah. Let’s concentrate on Devo’s downward slope period.


After releasing what I feel is their second best LP, “Oh No, It’s Devo”, to a largely indifferent reception, Devo had reached the end of their initial contract with Warner Brothers Records. Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh were uncertain about Devo’s future, so there was a lull period between 1982 and 1985 that saw only one new Devo release.

The theme for the horrific Dan Aykroyd vehicle “Dr. Detroit”.

Let’s not dwell on the bad things – the “Theme From Dr. Detroit” was a great little middle-period Devo single, with a characteristic motivational lyric and hyper beat. It was also Devo’s first chart hit in some time, bringing the band enough exposure to get them another one-album deal with Warner Brothers – unfortunately, that resulted in 1985’s “Shout”…but hey, we’re staying positive here!

Let’s give some half-hearted praise to the WB for leasing out all the Devo albums to Collector’s Choice, who has reissued them all this year. I say “half-hearted” cuz they’re pretty skimpy on bonuses, unlike the vastly superior Infinite Zero reissues from the early ‘90s. Would it have killed them to simply pick those up and put ‘em back out? Feh.

Major praise goes to Target Video, who just released “Devo Live 1980”, a full-length Devo live show from, um, 1980, complete with all the filmed segments the band would show between costume changes.

Help support this site by purchasing The Devo Catalog via this link. Thanks!

One thing you won’t find on any of those CDs is the original single version of the “Theme From Dr. Detroit”. Rhino did put an extended version on the “Pioneers Who Got Scalped” anthology, but six minutes of this tune is about three far too many. So here, direct from my little Backstreet Records 45, is the single mix. Enjoy.

Download the “Theme From Dr. Detroit”.

”Theme From Dr. Detroit” peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Oh yeah, “Dr. Detroit” the movie makes its debut on DVD this week as well, but I ain’t linking to it!
posted by John, 5:15 PM | link |