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Rick-Springfield-Rocket-Science-Review-2016

RICK SPRINGFIELD - ROCKET SCIENCE - Review

Frontiers Records | Release Date: February 19 2016




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Rick Springfield’s career started way before his first solo album in 1972, though it was 1981 before he really made his mark on the charts with his first RCA release ‘Working Class Dog’, recorded at the famous Sound City Studio in Van Nuys California. It was of course the album which spawned the career-defining hit ‘Jessie’s Girl’. 19 studio albums and 44 years later we have ‘Rocket Science’.  


Back in 1981 when Rick found real fame rock in the charts is defined by REO Speedwagon with their high watermark ‘Hi Infidelity’ the biggest seller of 1981;  and also Journey who had just released ‘Infinity’. Soft Rock rules the airwaves in general in the US, but it’s losing the battle with Phil Collins, The Police, Adam and the Ants and the Human League and a host of other UK invaders. Everything in the charts is glossy and smooth…


35 years later it’s interesting to listen to Rick’s latest release and realise how much has changed in the world of Rock and how little has changed at the core of Springfield’s work. It is essentially still that light breezy, pop rock with a great beat, big chorus and sing-along lyrics. It’s essentially timeless music, and unlike some of his contemporaries Springfield seems comfortable (either that or dismissive of) trends and labels. But if you don’t come with the baggage of years of listening to Rick there’s still plenty to love about this album. If you’ve always loved his work, like us, there’s plenty more to recommend it.


‘Rocket Science’ may not rule the charts in an age where it’s hard to think any modern day artists will still be relevant 40+ years on, but it does what good music should do – make you feel good.


Starting off with the best foot forward ‘Light This Party Up’ will have no problem standing up alongside the hits for years to some, it’s rocking, it’s sweet, it’s got drive and its meant to sing your heart out to.  ‘Down’ that follows is a little mellower, a little sweeter, but so damned good it actually makes you think this could be Springfield’s best for years.


The best artists are always those that can define themselves by their music, find their sound but aren’t content to rest wholly on their laurels. And it’s here on ‘Rocket Science’ that Springfield finds the room to mix it up a little. Throughout the album even on these first tunes there’s a certain sound to the guitar that whilst not exactly ‘Country’ wouldn’t be out of place on some Nashville Pop.


‘That One’ is perfect radio pop, modern sounding, yet distinctly Springfield, had it been by a young band, artist, or even someone like Rob Thomas this could have been huge and that really I guess is the issue Springfield 216 is going to have, the lack of radio support and big label.
To lovers of great smooth pop rock though it matters not one jot. ‘The Best Damn Thing’ is smooth, light and breezy fun; and the bluesy, countrified, poppy ‘Miss Mayhem’ that follows is possibly Springfield’s best song for years! God I’d love to hear and album like this, a little funkier, just a little dirtier at the edges. Lovers of Rick’s last outing ‘Songs For the End of The World’ might have wished for something heavier this time out but to be honest the quality of the songs in the first half of ‘Rocket Science’ beggar belief.


After that huge opening attack the album in truth does rest on its laurels a little ‘Pay It Forward’; ‘Found’ and ‘Crowned Solitude’ have a little more Country about them and I guess that takes a little getting used to, but opens up huge cross-over potential.


‘Let Me In’ that breaks it up is the sweet ballad you’d been hoping for and really manages to hit the mark. It’s nicely juxtaposed with ‘All Hands on Deck’ a fun sea shanty of a song that comes as quite a surprise but really works well. It’s something you’d maybe not expect from Springfield but immediately has you wishing for a little more of those left-field forays.


The album closes pretty strongly with ‘We Connect’ lavishes on a great urgency and melody and tells of the disconnection of the modern age; ‘(I Wish I Had a) Concrete Heart’ bemoans a broken heart and ‘Earth to Angel’ which closes with a not unappealing modern country swagger.


Seeing Rick live in London a couple of years back and hearing him here it’s amazing that he’s lost nothing over the years, everything is still firing on all cylinders and as he approaches 70 he’s still a truly inspiring artist.  

 


 

by Mark Rockpit

 

 


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