|Rick Springfield The Day After Yesterday||Gomer/DKE|
I wrote the majority of this review last week but decided to give the album a little extra time. I am glad I did. While the flaws within the album didn't vanish, the extra playback time did allow some of the positives to shine more clearly.|
In the end, the major decider with this album comes not from anything Rick Springfield could have done better, but rather with the listener's willingness to accept the music within. That's the way it goes with covers albums.
Those that have been with this site since the early days know my passion for Rick's music. There has only been a few albums released by Rick in the 8 years I have run this site, but all have received favorable reviews – Sahara Snow (85%), Karma (98%) and Shock Denial Anger & Acceptance (93%).
The key to liking this record is gauging what you really want out of it. If you want a pleasant, laid back album you can play in the background without asking too much of it - or perhaps an early morning album that doesn't attack the senses - then this fits the bill.
I'm not a huge fan of covers albums. In recent times there have been a bunch of them and few have really impressed. I do believe the main point of a covers album is to try and do something a little different with the material.
The best covers album I have ever heard is Andy Taylor's Dangerous album, which takes some classic rock tunes and rocks them to within an inch of their life.
This album has a different vibe altogether. After the rock and shock of the last album – possibly Rick's heaviest ever - The Day After Yesterday strips things right back and delivers a sentimental selection of soulful pop classics.
Rick has gathered some interesting songs, leaving them largely intact, with versions not far removed from the originals.
That brings us to the two main problems with this release. First of all the album contains 14 tracks which are all basically slow or mid-tempo tracks at best. The album is crying out for a change in pace and something a little more uptempo. The last half of the album really struggles for pace and is calling out for a Living In Oz style guitar rip.
This is also a very long album. 40-50 minutes would be plenty of time to pay tribute to these songs, but at nearly 70 minutes, the pacing problem is only exaggerated.
The other problem as far as I see things, is the choice of songs. While Rick's unique identity is showcased brilliantly on a few tracks, it is equally lost on others. His trademark vocals and delivery style are scaled back in order to fit the format of the original songs, which sees some tracks not working out. A dozen or so listens into this album and I am left with nothing new to discover. There is little variation to the original songs. I'm normally left analyzing Rick's songs months after the release of a new album, but I feel I know everything about this record already.
The negatives out of the way, there are also several positives. The most obvious and important is Rick's own performance. His vocals on this album are warm, inviting and engaging. On a few songs in particular we get a glimpse of the true, raw, emotional vocals that were at times abandoned on SDAA. This album is a return to the vocal style of Karma.
The quality of the overall production is also first rate. The sound is amazing. The majority of Rick's records have sounded a million bucks and he proves here that he is ever more at home in his own studio. The production and arrangements are lush and the subtle layers of synth, keyboards and additional guitar overdubs are perfectly and evenly mixed in.
Harmony vocals are also well placed and executed throughout, adding texture when needed and adding to the atmosphere of the record.
That comment draws me into the songs themselves. To be honest – there are several here I never cared for when originally released, which obviously impairs my enjoyment of the album. Rick of course, makes them ever more listenable, but there are some tunes here I would be happy to never hear again – ever.
I'm Not In Love (10CC), Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty), Life In A Northern Town (Dream Academy) and Let's Go Out Tonite (Blue Nile) are all routinely flogged to death to this day on FM stations around the world and are not my pick of the best on here.
To kick off any album with a song as limp as I'm Not In Love is in my opinion, not a wise move. It is just too slow.
However, things make a major improvement on track two – Rick's extremely good take on the highly underrated gem by Australian alternative-pop outfit The Church. The moody and slightly haunting early 80's Aussie mega-hit Under The Milky Way fits Rick's voice perfectly and his warm smokey vocals are a joy here.
Life In A Northern Town features another warm and raspy vocal, but being that the song doesn't deviate from the original, there is not a lot to draw me back in.
Broken Wings is a long time favourite from Mr. Mister – a band who had a similar high-tech melodic rock style and reached their commercial peak just as Rick was coming off his.
Richard Page has one of the best voices in the business and in appearing with Rick here showcases the obvious difference in their voices. I prefer Rick's rock n roll edge, but on his own material. What I really like about this track is the extended musical passage and classy guitar soloing towards the end of the track. Some very tasteful guitar playing is featured here, which I would love to have heard even more of on some other songs.
Another highlight from the album is Human (Human League). This is a great ballad and this one fits Rick's voice probably better than any other track featured. It's also perfect for the theme of the album. In fact, this is the best track for allowing Rick's natural voice and style to shine through. This track could almost find itself as part of the Sahara Snow or Karma records.
I think the 1975 era pop-funk of Holding On To Yesterday (Ambrosia) doesn't suit Rick. Yes, it's something different, but it's just not that interesting to these ears.
Waiting For A Girl Like You (Foreigner) is another long time favourite. Who could forget the passionate delivery from Lou Gramm that made the song an all-time classic.
Again staying true to the original, this version is enjoyable and rates as one of the better songs of the album and features a nice passionate vocal from Rick.
Let's Go Out Tonight is sadly just too slow and further hurts the overall pacing of the album.
For No One (Beatles) sees Rick delve back into his earliest inspirations and reminds me of his early 70's Beginnings and Comic Book Heroes sound – influences which on those records were largely drawn from The Beatles.
It's at this point we really need a tempo lift, but it doesn't come. Instead Miss You Nights (Cliff Richard) is a slow, soft acoustic ballad. It's a beautiful song – truly – and Rick delivers another great soulful vocal. This song suits him to a tee and it is one of the better songs here - but it's placement within the album means some impact is lost.
Yet another slow ballad follows with Blue Rose (Lizz Wright). The pulse of this record is under major pressure at this point.
A curious addition to this covers affair is an original composition titled Cry. I'm not sure what era this was written in, but the song itself is something different for Rick. Probably why I can't put a finger on its origin. It suits this release and it is always cool to get a new Rick original. The classy piano playing on this song is something cool also.
Having said that, I can see why it has to this date remained unreleased. Not due to being a bad song at all – more so because I can't see where it would fit on any previous album.
You can't do any wrong to a classic like Imagine (John Lennon) and Rick's vocal does the song justice. I also like the orchestration within the track. However, the song ends the album as it started – very slowly.
Rick Springfield is such an amazing writer; I can't imagine too many fans that would pick the option of a covers album over that of new material. By and large, his awesome catalogue of songs outweighs the quality of the songs featured here.
Dare I ask the question? With the lack of any solid airplay from the SDAA album, was this record conceived as a possible route back into AC radio playlists?
The man is a songwriting genius with more depth and passion to his music than 99% of all other artists out there.
This release has some enjoyable moments and features some great vocals. But I do think that The Day After Yesterday does not do the man's legacy justice.
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