Artist:  Rick Springfield
   Title: From The Vault
   Label: Frontiers Records
 

After the release of the brilliant 'Venus In Overdrive', how many Springfield fans were expecting a follow-up album in the same mould to keep his momentum flowing? No doubt many had their hopes high in anticipation, so, what does he do? releases 'From The Vault', a collection of remastered and unreleased demos instead!

Along with producer / songwriter / ex-touring band member Jeff Silverman, they've chosen 13 tracks from 1986 - 1999, gave them a new lease of life to give "the audience an entirely new listening experience".

Well, there's bound to be a few disappointed people out there with this, but if that's what the man wants, so be it.

For the average new listener, hearing 'Dancin' On The Edge Of The World', 'Right Planet, wrong World' and 'You Write The Book' will have some nonplussed, as the 80's musical era simply passed them by, with a shrug of the shoulders, or they weren't around then and it all sounds so "old hat".

The dance-orientated 'Monkey' straight from the Miami Sound Machine territory couldn't be more different from Springfield after his chart hits like 'Jesse's Girl' and 'Human Touch', though he gets near that mark with 'Love Receiver', where there's a real gutsy guitar break to show he still has that rock trait inside.

A lot of these earlier tracks seem to run straight into each other with very little difference between them, so as the CD moves on to its later stages, there's a definite change, mainly for the better too.

'Hey Eileen' has a Celtic twist to its sound in the chorus, 'Dream In Colour (demo)' begins with a sitar and dreamy keyboard effect, leading into a Byrds-like jingly-jangly guitar folky-pop affair, and from here the album is saved.

Unfortunately 'Woman II' lets the side down with its George Michael over tones, but you can't win 'em all, so it's with a sigh of relief when 'Religion Of The Heart' comes along.  It shows Springfield on top form, the acoustic guitar orientated track more of what we'd expect from him nowadays.  Still, he does seem to like that dance / rock fusion in some of his songs, and with 'Why Don't You Dance', the bass couldn't be any funkier, the drums any more toe-tapping and the main man himself in fine cahoots with the backing singers.

Just when you think this is the normal way for him, he comes up with the quirky 'My Depression'.  Beginning with a doctor / professor claiming that "there is a sexual component to this relationship", the song dives head first into a non-stop list of exclamations literally without a break for a gasp of breath.  Very similar to Billy Joel's 1989 hit 'We Didn't Start The Fire', yet still gives the album its head turning moment.

Ending on 'In Veronica's Head', you can see where and why, he eventually headed towards 'Venus ...', so there's hope that there are better things to come.

The fact that this album couldn't really be called a 'Best Of' makes it all that more puzzling, why do this album now of all times?  Surely a couple of new albums down the line and then do maybes a "double greatest hits and more" would have been a better choice?

Still, 'From The Vault' will keep his die hard fans content somewhat, but as far as a wider audience, it seems somewhat pointless if you want them to hear the whole package of the star.  Here's hoping for a new album of new songs in the not too distant future to get things back on track please Rick.

Review by: Bob Baldwin

Tracklisting:

1. Dancin' On The Edge Of The World
2. Right Place, Wrong Planet
3. You Write The Book
4. Monkey
5. Love Receiver
6. Hey Eileen
7. Dream In Colour (demo)
8. Woman II
9. Religion Of The Heart
10. Why Don't You Dance
11. Somewhere
12. My Depression
13. In Veronica's Head

                  

 

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