Monday, March 26, 2012

Rick Springfield: "Beginnings..." (1972/2012 re-issue) CD Review

Nearly a decade before "Jessie's Girl" (and before his first appearance on General Hospital), Rick Springfield released his debut album, appropriately titled Beginnings...

Having heard little of his pre-"Jessie's Girl" output, this album came as a surprise. First of all, I didn't know he was such an accomplished musician. On this album he plays guitar, banjo, organ, harpsichord and piano. He also wrote all the tracks. Some of these tunes are pretty serious (including a song about suicide). Quite frankly, I never realized Rick Springfield was this talented (though he did write almost all the tracks from Working Class Dog). And no, not every song is great. For example, the final track, a fairly straight rock number titled "The Ballad Of Annie Goodbody," is nothing special. But over all, this album is truly interesting, and boasts some good tunes, some good songwriting.

"Mother Can You Carry Me"

The album opens with "Mother Can You Carry Me," a soft and pretty tune. It begins like a folk song, with acoustic guitar and vocals. But soon the strings come in, adding another dimension to the song. In that section, Rick sings, "When my heart was yours to play with/Though yours was never mine/And when I was there to lay with/Even then you had no time."

But I start to really love the song right after that, when the drums come in. The vocals sound so smooth then. And after that, there is a nice electric guitar section. It's interesting how when each element is added it seems completely natural to the structure of the song. There is a natural flow and progression to this song.

"Speak To The Sky"

"Speak To The Sky" was released as a single, and went to #14 on the Billboard chart. It's a fun, boppy song with a religious theme. These are the opening lines: "Speak to the sky whenever things go wrong/And you'll know you're not talking to the air/To the air/And the world will look better from up there/Speak to the sky because things can get you down/And you'll know when you're talking to the lord/To the lord/The world will look better than before."

Yes, it's a song about prayer, with Rick singing, "I speak to the sky every night." But it's truly fun, and even features a tuba. This song has a bit of a honky tonk thing, with piano and hand-claps. It's easy to see why it was a hit; after all, it's a bit of pop bliss, though its subject comes as a bit of a surprise.

"What Would The Children Think"

"What Would The Children Think" sounds a bit like Paul McCartney. This one tells the story of a middle class woman whose husband is cheating on her. She wants to hold it together for the sake of her children, presumably so that they'll still have an idealistic view of the world. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "What would the children think/Where would the children go/What would the children do/If they knew the way it was." This is not mindless teeny-bopper stuff. "What Would The Children Think" is an earnest song. The strings work to great effect on this one.

"1000 Years"

The chorus to "1000 Years" is totally catching, and I really like the piano, particularly during the chorus. The chorus is: "And in 1000 years I'll still be thinking of you/Though in 1000 years my love will have gone/But in 1000 years we'll probably be together/But right now you're gone."

This is a song of regret, with Rick Springfield singing, "And if I had only looked a little deeper/Each time I saw you weeping/How I wished I'd held you close/Because if I'd only shown my love in so many different ways/Maybe you would've stayed." There is a wonderful prominent string section around the three-minute mark. It's brief, but excellent.

"Hooky Jo"

"Hooky Jo" is a strange pop song about war stopping a relationship. It features banjo and tuba. It's totally catchy. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "And my sergeant said the war is over, son/It doesn't really matter that the north has won/So I packed my bags and I gave back my gun/I turned and headed home with the fighting done." Also, there is whistling and a dog barking at the end. So there.

"I Didn't Mean To Love You"

"I Didn't Mean To Love You" is a slower, groovy tune about a man who finds himself in love, and isn't all that happy about it. He sings, "I didn't mean to love you/I only meant to see how far you'd go/No, I didn't mean to love you/I tried to leave you, but my heart said no, no." It probably doesn't help that the girl is only seventeen years old. This song has a strange power. Rick really throws himself into this one, and it works, this being one of the album's best tracks.

CD Track List
  1. Mother Can You Carry Me
  2. Speak To The Sky
  3. What Would The Children Think
  4. 1000 Years
  5. The Unhappy Ending
  6. Hooky Jo
  7. I Didn't Mean To Love You
  8. Come On Everybody
  9. Why?
  10. The Ballad Of Annie Goodbody
This re-issue of Beginnings... is scheduled to be released on March 27, 2012 through Real Gone Music. It was originally released in 1972 through Capitol Records.

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