As I sat down to write this review of this, the hard-to-believe-it’s-actually-his-20th-album, from Rick Springfield, a little note popped up on my Facebook feed, pointing out that the very date on which I started typing marked the 35th anniversary of the release of his breakthrough album. ‘Working Class Dog’… For those of you who don’t know, that’s the album that spawned his #1 hit, the infuriating (and often copied) ‘Jessie’s Girl’. Fucking karma, or what?
Simultaneously to that release, of course, he was also starring in the top US drama ‘General Hospital’ – at the time probably one of the biggest shows on the old gogglebox… which, at the time, was probably enough reason to write the Aussie born Richard Springthorpe as another wannbe-soapstar-turned-wannabe-pop/rock-star. In fact, it wasn’t until the stunning ‘Tau’ album four years later that this particular reviewer took his musical credentials a bit more seriously…
Now entering his late Sixties, Springfield has long left behind that “teenage heart throb” tag with which I was most likely among many to label him back in the day. He is a mature, considered artist, and one who is still determined to create exciting new music which challenges pre-conceptions and ultimately rewards the listener with mutual determination. In this respect, ‘Rocket Science’ is both a surprising and unsurprising album: surprising in that it bears very little semblance to those heady days of the ’80s which provided him with the collateral to do what he has wanted with the rest of his musical career (admittedly to varying degrees of success), and unsurprising in that he has done exactly that… what he wants.
‘Rocket Science’ is a genre-defying album, combining elements of classic hard rock, such as opener and first single ‘Light This Party Up’, high melody AOR (‘Down’) through blues and country (the hugely infectious ‘The Best Damn Thing’ and the bluegrass-infused ‘Miss Mayhem’) and to the sort of traditional sea shanty which would have borne his ancestors to the land down under (‘All Hands On Deck’). It’s a beautifully crafted, mature and organic album by a mature artist comfortable in the knowledge that he has defied all the negative critics and nay sayers from three decades to prove himself as a songwriter of enduring and insightful talent.
Light This Party Up / Down / That One / The Best Damn Thing / Miss Mayhem / Pay It Forward / Found / Crowded Solitude / Let Me In / All Hands On Deck / We Connect / (I Wish I Had A) Concrete Heart / Earth To Angel
Recommended listening: The Best Damn Thing
‘Rocket Science’ is out now on Frontiers Records.