Having released a cute and unassuming debut album, that was not without heart and talent but could not become an event in its field, Rick Springfield (supported by Capitol Records) soon produced the follow-up, a fancily titled Comic Book Heroes
Short time between the first few releases can mean different things. Elan, stream of new ideas which has not dried up yet, success of previous albums, label pressure, and finally – just youth, drive and associated productivity. In this case, we can assume Rick wanted to develop what he often hinted at on the debut, and to assert himself with more confidence and credibility. Moreover, a feeling of dissatisfaction and more local popularity of the artist combined the raw material presented earlier required certain course correction.
All these can be felt while listening to the new work that mostly produces a pleasant impression of taking a new step on the artistic ladder. There is a leaner and more organic flow to the songs that touch on topics and moods, which are different yet gracefully blended in their range. Instead of circus and somewhat poor bubblegum, and shaky baroque pop we get well thought-out arrangements and vintage rock element. The instrument base changed too – we have string orchestra segments and respectable guitar solos. Add in still sincere and impassioned vocals of Springfield, and the LP gains atmosphere to hold the attention of the audience. If we try to identify the genre it will be more classic and folk rock, and such songs as Weep No More
, Why Are You Waiting
, Misty Water Woman
и Do You Love Your Children
demonstrate further development and expansion of the musical arsenal.
However, either due to insufficient time to gather enough material or because of prevailing uncertainty in the chosen course, the second half of the record presents only misses and oddities. Any listener that’s been pleasantly surprised so far would squirm in disappointment since starting from The Liar
and until (but not including) the last track nothing is worth listening. Especially sad is The Photograph
, a cut that fall out out of the superhero center. It sounds as if a boys-band fan came in to the studio while Springfield was away and quickly paste together first things that came to his mind. Otherwise it is difficult to explain all these nuh-nuh-nuhs and la-la-las, and it is easier to forget about it and suffer through to the last track.
The epic, 6-minute long gospel ending brings the end of the album to the level of its first half, letting the listener to restore its faltering trust and sympathy, and Rick to demonstrate his abilities in rock opera and multi-part arrangements. Due in no small part to this the LP leaves a pleasant feeling of having listened to a fresh, fairly ambitious and worthy of multiple returns record.
At the same time, the album failed to achieve commercial success despite the increase in the musician’s potential. The LP cannot be called groundbreaking in terms of musical ideas but the Springfield discography has some opuses that stormed the charts but were behind this work in terms of talent.
And so, with all its accomplishments and drawbacks, the album shows Rick not repeating himself, widening the range, and at the same time demonstrating continuity and move forward. It is a solid result for the beginning and locally known solo artist.