This record is Rick's solo debut from 1972. I listened to this record before I did any research about the record or Rick's past. I'm glad I did because I like the record. I think there are some strong pop songs on the record. However most of the reviews of the record aren't very complimentary. It seems there is more focus on what was happening with Rick's career than on the music itself. I'm glad I didn't read any of that to taint my experience.
I did however learn some interesting things in researching the record. It seems that at the time the record company was pushing Rick as a teen heartthrob. He was doing Tiger beat photo shoots and such. He did have a hit with "Speak To The Sky", which I'm assuming is a bit of a forgotten hit, because I had never heard of it before. It reached something like 14 on the billboard charts I believe is what I read. While this was a hit, there was controversy surrounding the record. Radio DJ's boycotted the record because of the rumor that the record company was buying up the record to inflate sales. It turned out that the accusation was unfounded, but it caused enough problems that the label dropped Rick. Wikipedia has all the details here.
Another interesting tidbit of pop culture history I learned was that Rick starred in a cartoon based on him called "Mission Magic" that aired on ABC Saturday mornings. It ran for two years. I've got to see that some day. Read more here.
But what about the music? That's why you're reading right? Right? Is anyone actually reading? Well, if someone is, this is for you. The music is good. Not mindblowingly great, but definitely good. For a first record you can already see that he's got a knack for song craft. One review pointed out in a negative way that the record feels like an artist being forced into and trying to fit into the singer songwriter mold, which was so popular at the time. This may be true, but I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. Sure, Rick's strength is writing pop tunes and 8 years later he help lay the blueprint for 80's power pop. So what does that mean for this record? It means that Rick is riffing off of a lot of influence of the time. You can hear The Beatles in some songs. McCartney especially is prevalent as an influence. I mean "What Would The Children Think" is just the Rick Springfield version of "A Day In The Life".
You can also hear T-Rex and Sweet in "Hooky Jo" which is just a straight up pop rock song.
One of the big highlights for me, though, on this record is Rick trying to fit into that serious singer songwriter mold. The song "The Unhappy Ending (Lean On Me)" is a song about a guy shooting himself in the head. This song sounds like a funeral march. it also goes into moment by moment detail of the suicide. It is so incredibly dark, that it makes me giddy. That alone made the song great to me, but then after reading about Rick's career and the history on the record, the song is really funny. It is funny because what was the record company thinking putting this song on a record that is being aimed at young teenage girls. It just seems like a bit of a disconnect as a formula for teen pop success. I wish I knew the rational here.
Another good song is "Come On Everybody" which points toward Rick's power pop strengths. Overall the album is upbeat and well written. The only real downer it the suicide song, but it is a good dramatic downer so I love it. So if you only know Rick from the 80's hits, I recommend listening to this record to hear a completely different side of Rick. I think you'll like what you hear.
01 Mother Can You Carry Me.m4a
02 Speak To The Sky.m4a
03 What Would The Children Think.m4a
04 1000 Years.m4a
05 The Unhappy Ending (Lead Me On).m4a
06 Hooky Jo.m4a
07 I Didn't Mean To Love You.m4a
08 Come On Everybody.m4a
10 The Ballad Of Annie Goodbody.m4a
Get the whole thing here Rick Springfield.zip