Monday, March 18, 2024

Chris Rea, Still Making Good Music 46 Years Later


Chris Rea popped up out of nowhere it seemed with “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)” in 1978.

He wrote it for his little sister, who had just suffered her first heartbreak. 

Produced by Gus Dudgeon — Elton John’s legendary producer — it was “slicked up” and that helped it hit #1 for 3 straight weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart in America, but it was not really his style:

I've still got a piece of paper and on the original lyrics it says: ''Fool (If You Think It's Over).' Song for Al Green. 96 beats per minute. Al Jackson, drums.' And that's what 'Fool' was always meant to be. So, I don't know where that rhythm box came from. But we survived that."

Al Green!? I would love to hear what that could have turned into!

But he is a slide guitar player at heart, and that is the only song he’s ever recorded that he didn’t play guitar on. It got airplay on lots of different formats, but did squat in the UK, his home turf.

He fought against this dichotomy for several years, drifting a bit musically and getting away from the bluesy, soulful, guitar-based sound he was more comfortable with. This interesting interview explains that and more.

Chris eventually rediscovered his roots with songs like this from 1986.

He says the song is about where he and his (future) wife consummated. Good to know!

“The Road to Hell” has 33M views on Youtube right now, his most popular video.

“Chisel Hill” is one of his favorites, from the 1985 “Shamrock Diaries”, his comeback album, of sorts.

So the bottom line is, his only big American hit is really not who he is, even though it's a pretty good song, and if you like him at all, his other output is worth checking out on YouTube or a streaming service.