Quick: When did Rick Springfield’s debut album come out? I’ll give you a hint: Working Class Dog, the album with “Jessie’s Girl” on it, came out in 1981. Give up? 1972. 1972, for crying out loud! It’s been said before with other artists, but I don’t know of any other artist toiling in obscurity for as long as Rickers did before his big break…can you imagine any artist today kicking around for nine years releasing album after album that doesn’t succeed before becoming mega?
Anyway, this was basically written and released concurrent with Springfield’s move to the States, kind of serving as his introduction to America. The biggest track on here is “Speak To The Sky,” which I’ve addressed as part of its inclusion on the repackaged version of Mission Magic!, and it’s also the album’s worst track. “Speak To The Sky” is bad and cheesy as hell, but there are worse songs to have as your low bar. Still, things don’t get a ton better, with most of the album kind of kicking around the tolerable level.
To a Rick-o-phile like me, the fun of hearing this album, finally released on CD for the first time since being out of print since like forever and only told of in tales by old women on Internet forums, is hearing how all the hallmarks of his later songwriting, especially the deep cuts, are here. You can trace a straight line from this to Comic Book Heroes to the masterpiece Wait For Night. Orchestration, song structures, vocal harmonies, and of course killer catchy melodies backed with guitar power chords (though they were far less powerful at this point, kind of matching up with that cover art more than you’d like).
Lyrically he’s covering similar ground, too, though he’s even less interested in boy-girl relationships here than he would be at his popular peak. Beyond the unfortunate ode to prayer “Speak To The Sky,” there’s a view of a cheating husband from the wife-cum-mother’s point of view in “What Would The Children Think” and a too-explicit tale of a the last seconds of a freakazoid a-hole’s life as he commits suicide on “The Unhappy Ending.” There’s also a time-capsule tale of objectifying women in “I Didn’t Mean To Love You” (“I only meant to see how far you’d go,” the lyrics continue.) Unfortunately, these come off as trite and betray the 23-year-old Springfield’s youth as it feels like he’s just trying to hard to be serious. I mean, points for trying, but the execution lacks.
Anyway, there are a few bright spots, especially the non-chorus of “Hooky Jo,” but this is clearly only for die-hard Rickers fans. I’m thrilled to finally have it, but you can hear why it was out-of-print for decades.
– “1000 Years,” “Hooky Jo,” “The Ballad Of Annie Goodbody”
– “Mother Can You Carry Me,” “What Would The Children Think,” “The Unhappy Ending,” “I Didn’t Mean To Love You,” “Come On Everybody,” “Why?”
– “Speak To The Sky”
Filed Between: Spin This Six sampler from Spin magazine and Rick Springfield’s Comic Book Heroes
Song Notes: After the jump
- Mother Can You Carry Me – what the hell is this about? The drums on this track are super cheesy. Almost broken.
- Speak To The Sky –
- What Would The Children Think – That line/part where it goes “Two kinds, one nine and one nearly four” is so perfectly done.
- 1000 Years –
- The Unhappy Ending –
- Hooky Jo – I like the first half of the verses, but I hate the choruses. Fuck it, full. Not the way a song usually grows on me. I found it super annoying because too catchy and then, okay, fine it’s actually awesome.
- I Didn’t Mean To Love You –
- Come On Everybody – he does this chorus shouty sing in the streets thing later i think on wait for night.
- Why? –
- The Ballad Of Annie Goodbody –