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Soap Actors Can Work Like Dogs, Too: Rick Springfield’s Early Albums

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So what?  Natalie Imbruglia was also a soap-opera star, and her first single, “Torn,” is one of the best lost-love songs ever recorded (“It’s so sad that when they play it in a grocery store, it makes the vegetables weep,” I remember one critic said).  So – so what if Rick Springfield was a soap-opera star?

I happen to think that “Jessie’s Girl” is simply a great pop song.  But I thought I’d remind you not about the album containing that gem but about its followup, Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet. Released in 1982, it also had some pretty not-shabby songs, the hits “Calling All Girls,” “What Kind of Fool Am I,” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers.”  There was also a nifty cover of the 1966 Los Bravos hit “Black is Black,” and, especially considering that this was the album that followed a huge smash, there was remarkably little that you might call “filler.”

What Does It Sound Like?

Well, you got your prominent rhythm guitar – check.  You got your melodies (in the verses and choruses both) that just won’t quit – check.  And you’ve got Rick’s voice and, let’s face it, audible good looks and charisma.  Dr. Noah Drake didn’t burn up General Hospital just because he was such a fine physician.  Springfield was clearly constructed for stardom; it just so happened that he managed to be a bona fide superstar in two fields of popular culture, TV and music.  Not only that, he did them simultaneously!

Does It Hold Up?

Do me a favour and listen for yourself.  I was a fan at the time, so even thirty-two years later, it doesn’t sound all that dated to me.  Understand that I am NOT making a comparison of the excellence of artists here, but when you hear “Peggy Sue” or “Johnny B. Goode” or “Heartbreak Hotel,” what do you do?  Do you critically realize that the production is substandard, the sound of the instruments old-fashioned?  Or do you happily groove to great pop music?  The good thing is that, even in the eighties, Rick Springfield played good old pop-rock, so his albums aren’t dated by unfortunate synthesizer experiments the way some of his contemporaries’ albums are.  Good pop music once, good pop music still.

Check out our review of Springfield's Songs for the End of the World.


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