Rick Springfield: Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance

In 2002 My Baby and I took a trip to Las Vegas.  When we were there we saw the show Rick Springfield was starring in at MGM Grand.  “It won’t be like a Rick Springfield concert,” My Baby warned me when we were still deciding what show to see.  As if I cared.  Tt was awesome, and he even played a few of his songs throughout the night.  Often this was in the form of just a few lines sprinkled in here and there, but for the benefit of those sitting around us I would keep singing the rest of the song.

I was giddy for the whole show.  At one point during the performance, I leaned in and asked My Baby, “Do you think he knows I’m here?”

“Why do you think he’s rocking it so hard?,” she replied.

As it turns out, he may not have been rocking it so hard just because I was there; he may have been falling in love.  According to Springfield’s biography (fair warning, I’m working from memory here), it was during this time, in a fragile “recovery” from depression and the resulting sexual addiction, that Springfield was seduced into betraying his wife yet again.  I say “seduced” because, according to Springfield, this woman led him to believe it wasn’t just groupie sex, that it was a deeper connection.  Anyway, the abrupt end of this relationship inspired this 2004 album.

And boy did the ordeal do a number on him: he’s pissed as hell here.  The album is the most aggressive thing he’s ever done, with distorted, loud guitars and bitter, spiteful lyrics.  Oh, the lyrics.  Try “everything you gave to me you went and gave away to anybody else with a dick” from “Idon’twantanythingfromyou” or “Jesus saves white trash/Baby, like you” from “Jesus saves.”

However, there’s more than just pissed here.  In fact, the swirl of emotional material, with its sudden swings from love and devotion to venom, reads like a several-page letter from a young, jilted man just suffering his first real breakup to the object of his emotional turmoil.  “Wasted” covers this well with “You had the power to save my soul/I had the power to make you whole/We had the power and we had control, but we blew it.”

Still, it’s mostly angry.  And the angry songs work the best, for the most part.  The more mild-mannered tracks feel like they could have come off of his prior album, the good but mostly passionless Karma.  There’s also a weird detour with “Angels Of The Disappeared,” a song about missing children that is reminiscent of and about as good as probably the most famous song in that micro-genre, Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train.”

On the whole, this album may be a touch too long with a bit of a quality valley just past halfway through.  However, that dip still doesn’t descend below “like” quality, leaving this a solid front-to-back disc.  The hooks and tunes aren’t as good as his best stuff, but that’s an awfully high bar.  And there are a few songs that I’d definitely want to hear in concert, making this a worthy addition to the man’s oeuvre.  This completes my collection of his main albums.  (What I don’t have now is just tracks here and there as well as a few out-of-print albums.)  So I’m glad it was a strong finish.  And it’s good to know Springfield and I have at least one more thing in common: we handle break ups really, really poorly.

Song Notes:

  1. Perfect – Wow sounds terrible at end. There’s a line or two that almost makes this like, but I’ll keep it.
  2. I’ll make you happy – Ends with some applause and like a TV show ending. This is pretty awesome. Despite Wikipedia saying this is album is entirely composed by Springfield, Allmusic says it’s a cover of the Easybeat’s “I’ll Make You Happy.”  And it is.  (Thank you, Rhapsody.)
  3. Will I? – “Will I ever see you again”. Demerits for “It is what it is”. Ends with an orchestra and some radio talk. Pretty good.
  4. God Gave You to Everyone – So angry. Solos and keys elevate to keep.
  5. Idontwantanythingfromyou – So angry. Ends with about 25 seconds of radio talk and staticy stuff that probably keeps it from being mixed. Punky.
  6. Jesus saves – Very heavy start. “Jesus saves white trash/Baby, like you.” Yeah, he’s angry here.
  7. Beautiful you – Feel like I recognize this from somewhere.  Ends with a solo guitar and some footsteps. If the guitar tone weren’t so harsh this could be off Karma.
  8. Wasted – “Her e-mails read just like a porno site.”
  9. Shoot Your Guru – Short, classical guitar. Is the title a John Lennon reference? Only like a minute long. Nice transition but not much else.
  10. Alien Virus – Slow.
  11. Angels Of The Disappeared – Seems to veer off from the concept.
  12. Eden – This and the next one seem to be coming back to his wife Barbara. Big strings part. Also a Karma vibe.
  13. The Invisible Girl – Another one that fits the Karma vibe. Lounge style and atmosphere.
  14. My Depression – Another version of this made it onto that one he did with Jeff Silverman, I think.
  15. Your Psychopathic mother – So angry. Great chorus gets it kept
  16. Every night I wake up screaming –
  17. Open my eyes – Minor key. Short, simple, “Open my eyes to you.” Kinda dumb.

Rating:
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Mix:
“Wasted” “Every night I wake up screaming”
Keep:
“Perfect,” “I’ll make you happy,” “Will I?,” “God Gave you to everyone,” “Idon’twantanythingfromyou,” “Jesus saves,” “Beautiful you,” “Angels Of The Disappeared,” “My Depression,” “Your Psychopathic mother”
Like:
“Shoot Your Guru,” “Alien Virus,” “Eden,” “The invisible girl,” “Open my eyes”

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