Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's almost like living a dream

Today, randomly, is about English bluesmen-at-heart who ended up being fleeting pop sensations in the States.

Chris Rea was playing on a jukebox last night, but he wasn't. It was just the Chris Rea of my imagination, or, rather, a late-career Gino Vannelli.

Chris Rea was not a smooth crooner at all, really. He wanted his blues influences and craggy voice to emerge from the crisp yacht-rock coating applied by Elton John's producer. He returned to his early goals only after surviving pancreatic cancer, including the same harrowing-sounding surgery that Steve Jobs had had.

Still, I like Rea's intimate little admonishment to a heartbroken girl."I'll buy your first good wine," he offers.

Creepy? Maybe--but this was 1978, after all.

Climax Blues Band is that workhorse that's been around since bellbottoms and now, somewhere, they play with a little gut (and a lot of guts) and some gray hair. (This is when I always think of walking down a street in downtown Asheville, NC one summer night in '01 or something during a festival and there, at the bottom of the road, was Foghat.) They got it right (ha) in '76 with a clomping, funky favorite (I thought "that lot" came from America, too, dude), and came back again in '80 with this couples-skate-only ballad that's so much more than that, including a band-buster that was only performed live once, karaoke-style, in an English pub in Clearwater, Florida. But what emerges from its crisp, yacht-rock coating, applied by an American producer (who gave us not just Styx, but Styx II and went on to crisp up Animotion with a Fairlight), is an unalloyed love song.


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