This is another winner by Rick Springfield and has been a unanimous success both critically and commercially.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Rick Springfield
ALBUM: Rocket Science
SERIAL: FRCD 722
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Rick Springfield – vocals, guitar; Tim Pierce, George Bernhardt, Dan Strain, George Nastos – guitar * Matt Bissonette – bass * Jorge Palacios – drums * Jim Cox – keyboards * Steve Stokes – banjo, violin * George Doering – banjo * Craig Eastman – fiddle * John Jorgenson – pedal steel
TRACK LISTING: 01 Light This Party Up * 02 Down * 03 That One * 04 The Best Damn Thing * 05 Miss Mayhem * 06 Pay It Forward * 07 Found * 08 Crowded Solitude * 09 Let Me In * 10 All Hands On Deck * 11 We Connect * 12 (I Wish I Has A) Concrete Heart * 13 Earth To Angel * 14 Beautiful Inside (Bonus Track)
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Over the last decade or so Rick Springfield has received perhaps the most critical acclaim of his career for efforts like ‘Venus In Overdrive’ and ‘Songs For The End Of The World’ which were also positively reviewed by myself here. In retrospect I haven’t listened to either since their release, which doesn’t say much for their lasting appeal, Springfield’s 80’s work is always where it’s at for me and many others I suspect.
Nevertheless that era is more than ancient history as Rick Springfield continues to experiment with different styles and sounds, this time flirting with country on ‘Rocket Science.’ It seems to be a popular direction for aging rockers, just ask the likes of Sammy Hagar and Steven Tyler. If anyone can make it work, then surely it’s Springfield, being the ageless musical genius he is.
I severely wanted to dislike this album based on the country premise, but it’s hard to find fault with much of what Rick Springfield offers here. The hooks are impeccable as always and it’s hard not to hear AOR elements in them, which does make the country addition a little painful as a result.
This is most noticeable in the catchy ‘Down’ which is vintage Springfield and a track which could have graced the best of his 80’s work. ‘Light This Party Up’ is an anthem which seems unusual for Springfield, but is raucous enough and seemingly made for drunken nights in a country bar. The chorus of ‘The Best Damn Thing’ is powerful and again begs for proper AOR treatment, but instead has the popular ‘Nashville’ guitar sound lurking in the background.
The country tangent is at its strongest on ‘Found’ which could be a Toby Keith track, or someone of that ilk. A large helping of violin introduces ‘Crowded Solitude’ which when stripped of the country backing is an excellent song and proves Springfield can easily hang with the younger generation for pop chart sensibilities.
The swamp blues of ‘Miss Mayhem’ is a bit cliched and forgettable for me, a bit too obvious. More traditionally rock based is ‘We Connect’ which is as close as Rick gets to the 80’s. There’s probably three tracks too many and by the time we get to ‘Earth To Angel’, the country strains do start to wear thin. The point is well taken by then. The vocal harmonies found on ‘Beautiful Inside’ are quite stunning however, Springfield sticking to the basics.
This is another winner by Rick Springfield and has been a unanimous success both critically and commercially. His ability to reinvent himself and still remain valid is almost unique in an era when most musicians at his age have all but given up the ghost.
Whether I’ll still be listening to this like a ‘Living In Oz’ or ‘Tao’ in ten years time is extremely unlikely, but taken at face value for what it is, this is still about as perfect as commercial rock gets in 2016.