Rick Springfield: "Jessie's Girl" was just one of his many hits

Oct 29, 2003 (Updated Nov 8, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Top 10 hits: "Jessie's Girl," Don't Talk To Strangers," "Love Somebody," more.

Cons:Includes all of Rick's '80s hits, but none of his forgotten early '70s hits.

The Bottom Line: All of Rick's Top 40 hits from the 1980s are featured on 17 tracks on a single CD that runs for more than 69 minutes of pop music heaven.


At some point in his life the future pop singer decided that he couldn't be a pop music star under his real name, Richard Lewis Springthorpe --- so he changed his name to Rick Springfield (although "Dick Springthorpe" would have had a certain ring to it).

By the 1980's, Springfield was one of the biggest-selling pop stars in the world with 17 singles (all but one written by Rick himself) that hit the Billboard Hot 100 between 1972 and 1988.

Among those hits were such Top 10 gems as "Jessie's Girl," "I've Done Everything For You" (written by former Van Halen lead singer Sammy Hagar), "Don't Talk To Strangers," "Affair Of The Heart" and "Love Somebody." He was Grammy-nominated four times, winning "Best Male Rock Vocalist" in 1981 for "Jessie's Girl." He also won three American Music Awards.

This CD:

Rick Springfield's "greatest hits" are well-represented on Camden Records (distributed of the BMG International UK & Ireland Ltd.) release, "Best Of," which covers the period of his greatest success in 1981-88 (his ealier Capitol hits are not included).

This album has more tracks and a longer running time than the U. S.-released RCA "Best Of" CD, so please note the difference when ordering. This is the superior collection.

At more than 69 minutes in duration, the CD features 17 tracks on a single CD. The sound is cleanly reproduced from the original recordings (variously produced by Springfield, Keith Olsen and Bill Drescher).

All of Rick's Top 40 hits in the '80s appear in this collection.

The tracks:

"I've Done Everything For You," "Jessie's Girl," "Affair Of The Heart," "Human Touch," "Souls," "Love Somebody," "Living In Oz," "Love Is Alright Tonight," "What Kind Of Fool Am I," "Don't Talk To Strangers," "Motel Eyes" and "Celebrate Youth."

Also, "Just One Kiss," "Bop 'Til You Drop," "Walking On The Edge," "Walk Like A Man," "State Of The Heart," "Calling All Girls" and "Rock Of Life."

Recommendation:

Pop 'til you drop --- there's plenty of power poppin' rock 'n' roll on this disc to make you believe in the magic of love. I highly recommend it to fans of classic rock, 1980's Top 40 pop and fans of good music everywhere.

The bio:

Military brat:

Springfield, born in Merrylands, Sydney, Australia, in August 1949, was the son of an Australian Army colonel. He spent his teens in England, but returned to Australia, quit high school and formed a band called Rock House. Having grown-up as a freckle-faced, insecure kid, he felt his only chance to "date some girls" was to become a rock star.

Rock House changed its name to M.P.D., Ltd., and entertained the troops in Vietnam in 1968-69 (neat photo of Rick playing for the troops at (http://www.rickspringfield.com/RSdotcom/images/Vietnam%201968%20%27MPD%27).

Zoot:

Rick later formed a band called Wickedy Wak and finally found stardom, at least in Australia, as a member of a Beatles-inspired group called Zoot as the band's lead guitarist.

The members of Zoot dressed in pink and drove around in a pink car, something Rick later said in an interview used to get the band into a number of after-show fights with the more macho members of the audience. According to Phonograph Record magazine in 1972, Zoot's slogan had been, "Think pink, think Zoot!"

Zoot scored a gold-selling single in Australia with their cover of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" (Rick has a clip of the tune on his website at http://www.rickspringfield.com/RSdotcom/htmlpgs/home.html).

Though a U. S. single in the '70s required sales of one million copies (today it's 500,000 copies) to earn a Gold Record Award, in Australia you needed to sell only 50,000 copies to earn the same award for an Australian single. Still, Zoot was voted the "# 1 band in Australia" by fans in 1970, and Rick found his own songwriting bug while with the hard-rocking band.

Solo stardom, the 1970's:

By 1971, Rick no longer wanted to dress in pink and became a solo artist, scoring a Top 10 album in Australia with "Speak To The Sky." For a few years, he enjoyed some minor international pop stardom in the 1970s (fighting for teen magazine photo space with David Cassidy and Donny Osmond).

In his homeland, Australian fans voted Rick "Australia's # 1 Guitarist" (in 1971 and 1972), "Australia's # 1 Singer-Songwriter" (1972) and "Australia's Most Popular Musician" (1972) in various magazine polls.

His first U. S. success, the album "Beginnings," hit # 35 during a 17-week run in 1972 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts.

Appearances on "The Sonny & Cher Show" and "American Bandstand" in support of that album established a firm hold in the U. S. briefly, helping his single "Speak To The Sky" go Top 20 in the U. S. in 1972 (fresh from its # 1 chart triumph in Australia).

In the U. S., he managed four Billboard Hot 100 singles between 1972 and 1976, but only one hit the U. S. Top 40, "Speak To The Sky" (which peaked at # 14 in 1972; in 1976, he just missed the Top 40 with "Take A Hand," which stalled at # 41).

In 1974, the ABC-TV cartoon series, "Mission Magic," was created as a vehicle to showcase Rick's songs, but its ratings weren't great and the show was cancelled after two seasons.

Part of Rick's problems, chart-wise, were some bad breaks. In 1972-73, he was on Capitol Records, but rumors circulated that Capitol was paying young girls to buy the "Beginnings" album --- a charge denied by Capitol. The rumor led to some U. S. radio deejays boycotting Springfield's records, even though Rick himself was never accused of being part of the alleged Capitol scheme.

Whatever the facts, Springfield asked out of his Capitol contract, but some deejays continued their boycott even after Capitol released Springfield.

Rick switched to Columbia Records in 1974 and then to Chelsea Records in 1976 (that last label folded shortly after releasing his "Wait For The Night" album) --- neither label could help Rick regain his lost sales momentum in the U. S. and his albums disappeared as quickly as they were released.

Rick then tried to divorce himself from his management team and wound up paying them "several thousand dollars" to get out of his contract.

Acting career:

Frustrated, Rick turned to acting in the mid-1970's, taking classes taught by Malcolm McDowell ("A Clockwork Orange").

Rick's acting training paid off, with Rick scoring some acting success with appearances on "The Incredible Hulk," "Nancy Drew," "The Rockford Files," "Wonder Woman," "The Six Million Dollar Man" and the pilot film of "Battlestar Galactica" in 1978 (playing Zak, the short-lived brother of Colonial Viper pilot Apollo, played by actor Richard Hatch; there's a photo of, left to right, Springfield and Hatch at http://www.rock-of-life.com/images/biopics/BioPic5.jpg).

Musical comeback, the 1980's:

Springfield began writing songs for what would become his "Working Class Dog" album in 1978.

RCA signed a contract with him for the album in 1979, but disputes with the label over Rick's choice of cover art (he eventually won with his picture of a dog wearing a white shirt and a black tie on the front cover) kept the album's release delayed until 1981 --- the label apparently wanted Rick's "teen dream" face on the cover, and Rick decided he wasn't going to be dragged down that dead end again after what had happened when his smiling face turned up in all the teen magazines in the 1970's. This time, it was going to be about his music, not his good looks, or so he hoped.

During this time, Rick had sunk his teeth into the role of Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera "General Hospital," gaining considerable popularity. Not surprisingly, RCA finally released "Working Class Dog" in 1981 to cash in on Springfield's return to fame.

Rick's photogenic good looks and catchy-as-hell melodies were perfect for music videos, his return to music coinciding with the arrival of MTV in 1980. The network needed videos to play and RCA pumped them out for Rick's singles (some of Rick's later ones, such as the sci-fi-oriented "Human Touch," were ahead of their time creatively).

Superstardom:

"Working Class Dog" rose to # 7 on the Billboard album chart in 1981, producing a pair of Top 10 singles and remaining in the Top 200 Albums list for an amazing 73 weeks (more than any other album released in 1981), earning gold and platinum sales awards along the way (eventually going double platinum after selling two million copies). The album's success was a personal success for Rick as a musician, too, since he played most of the instruments on the album, which is a pretty cool accomplishment for a self-taught musician.

On the singles charts, Rick scored with "Jessie's Girl," which hit # 1 for 2 weeks in 1981, selling over a million copies to earn a Gold Record Award. The song spent 32 weeks in the Hot 100. Eventually, the tune won the Grammy Award for "Best Male Vocal Performance" for the song.

This was followed by "I've Done Everything For You" (written by Sammy Hagar, it peaked at # 8, with 22 weeks in the Hot 100) and "Love Is Alright Tonight" (which hit # 20, appearing on the charts just before Christmas of 1981 and remaining on the charts into 1982).

Rick's next long player, "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet," rose to # 2 in the U. S. for three straight weeks in 1982 (spending 35 weeks in the Top 200 Albums). It also earned gold and platinum sales status while giving birth to a Top 10 single, "Don't Talk To Strangers."

The single, "Don't Talk To Strangers," went to # 2 for four weeks straight, eventually logging 21 weeks on the Hot 100 Singles chart. The tune received a Grammy nomination.

The album helped Rick win the American Music Award's "Favorite Male Rock Vocalist" title in 1982.

Though follow-up singles in 1982 continued to go Top 40, they increasingly showed declining sales ("What Kind Of Fool Am I" peaked at # 21 and "I Get Excited" (which was also Grammy-nominated) stalled at # 32).

There was some confusion when Rick's 1976 Chelsea Records album, "Wait For Night," was reissued on RCA Records just before Christmas of 1982 --- teen fans thought this was a new release and it sounded nothing like his more recent material, so the album peaked at # 159 with only 8 weeks on the charts.

Springfield decided to concentrate on music full-time and left "General Hospital" in 1983.

Rick's "Living In Oz" album in 1983 failed to go Top 10, peaking at # 12, but it spent more than a year (a total of 57 weeks) in the Top 200 Albums chart.

The album produced the 1983 hits "Affair Of The Heart" (# 9), "Human Touch" (# 18) and "Souls" (# 23).

"Living In Oz" became Springfield's third multi-platinum-selling album.

In 1984, Rick made his answer to "A Hard Day's Night" with the film "Hard To Hold." The movie was on the big screen for just six weeks with poor sales.

The soundtrack album for "Hard To Hold," however, went to # 16 on the charts in 1984, producing a Top 10 single with "Love Somebody" (which peaked at # 5). The album spent 36 weeks on the charts.

"Hard To Hold" produced three additional hit singles in 1984 as well: "Don't Walk Away" (# 26), "Bop 'Til You Drop" (# 20) and "Taxi Dancing" (a duet with Randy Crawford that peaked at # 59). The soundtrack album also included songs performed by Peter Gabriel, Nona Hendryx and Graham Parker.

Mercury Records got a hold of some unreleased 1978 vocals by Rick and added new music tracks to them for the 1984 album, "Beautiful Feelings," which peaked at # 78 in 1984-85. The album produced a hit single with "Bruce," which hit # 27, but "Bruce" was a song Springfield had done as a joke and had never intended it to ever be released (he had grown tired of interviewers in the 1970s mistakingly calling him Bruce Springfield or Rick Springsteen when they met).

Rick's downward spiral on the sales charts began in 1985, when the "Tao" album sold the 500,000 units needed to earn a Gold Record Award for an album, but couldn't sell the million copies needed to earn a Platinum Record Award, despite a popular tour and an appearance at Live Aid. The album peaked at # 21, the last of his solo albums to break into the top half of Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart.

The poor sales of "Tao" are even harder to fathom when one considers that the album produced Top 40 hits with "Celebrate Youth" (# 26) and "State Of The Heart" (# 22).

Meanwhile, Rick's priorities were changing with his marriage to Barbara Porter in Australia in 1984. Rick's first child, Liam, was born in 1985. A second son, Joshua, who was born in 1989.

In 1986, Rick made his last live performance for seven years on "American Bandstand's 25th Anniversary" special. On the special, he sang a song to his father, who had recently passed away, called "My Father's Chair."

Career sidelined by an accident:

Rick's 1988 album, "Rock Of Life," died a quick chart death, despite the title track being a Top 40 hit (the single, "Rock Of Life," peaked at # 22 in 1988, his last Hot 100 hit).

Rick was unable to tour in support of the album after crashing his ATV and shattering his collarbone. The injuries from the crash meant that Rick couldn't hold a guitar for six months and a planned tour was cancelled, the kiss of death for a new album.

Rick's career pretty much slid off the pop radar screens after that. His own family was growing (a wife and two sons by 1989) and Rick had relocated to San Diego by the early 1990's.

In 1993, Rick did his first tour in seven years, playing small venues during the summer.

Rick's up-and-down career lit up again. In 1994, Rick signed to do the syndicated (a show sold station-by-station rather than to any network) TV series, "High Tide," which lasted three seasons. He also did some cable movie work and his voice was used in the cartoon series "Johnny Bravo."

Rick began doing more live concert appearances in 1997 and released an overseas album, "Sahara Snow."

In 1998, Rick signed a contract with Platinum Records, which released his critically acclaimed album, "Karma," in the U. S. in 1999. He did an episode of VH-1's "Behind The Music" to support the album, which rose to # 189 in 1989, ending an 11-year chart absence.

Unfortunately, while his "Behind The Music" was one of the highest-rated ever on VH-1, Rick didn't have a website at the time, a place for his fans to visit and unite. He has since corrected that problem with his official website at http://www.rickspringfield.com .

To make matters worse, Platinum Records soon folded, meaning Rick's album was put in limbo not long after its release and wouldn't be charting any higher.

The hard-working Springfield toured for a year (starting 10 months before "Karma" was released, hoping to create a buzz for the album). The disappointment he had in the sad fate of "Karma" apparently didn't depress Springfield, who seems to have been fired up by sell-out concerts in front of fans who showed him they were still there for him.

Springfield made appearances on such TV shows as NBC-TV's "Today" show (which broadcast a live concert by Rick) and various talk shows to keep his comeback buzz alive.

Somewhere along the way, Rick also found time to appear on Broadway in "Smokey Joe's Cafe" and on several television shows, including "Suddenly Susan" (starring Brooke Shields).

In 2001, Rick's "The Greatest Hits: Alive" was issued on Universal's Hip-O Records, coinciding with Rick beginning a two-year run in "EFX Alive" at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The album has been a steady seller, but not enough so to make the Top 200 Albums chart, not an unusual fate for a live album.

Rick has been recording a new studio album during 2003, tentatively titled "shock/denial/anger/acceptance." The tentative release date is Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) in 2004, according to his website. He is currently on tour (tour dates are at his official website).

My favorite tracks (or "sing along with Don"):

"Jessie's Girl":

The gentle guitar intro revs up on the chorus as the singer expresses his desire for a good friend's girlfriend on the Springfield-penned "Jessie's Girl" (I remember being blown away when he sang this on "Good Morning, America," in 1981, looking ever the rock star even before the song even went Top 10):

"Jessie is a friend / yeah, I know he's been a good friend of mine / but lately something's changed / it ain't hard to define / Jessie's got himself a girl / and I want to make her mine / and she's watching him with those eyes / and she's lovin' him with that body, I just know it! / and he's holding her in his arms late, late at night / you know I wish I had Jessie's girl / I wish I had Jessie's girl / where can I find her, a woman like that?..."

And what girl-crazy guy hasn't said lines like these at some point of in his life:

"...and I'm lookin' in the mirror all the time / wonderin' what she don't see in me / I've been funny; I've been cool with the lines / ain't that the way love's supposed to be be? / tell me, why can't I find a woman like that?..."

"I've Done Everything For You":

The Sammy Hagar-penned rocker "I've Done Everything For You" describes a guy who decides he's through with a money-loving woman ("all you want is a whole lotta money, all the rest is just jivin' honey"). So he sets her straight in song, over power chords and crashing drums:

"This one way love affair ain't fair, it ain't fair to me / it's all give and take and you just take / I can't take it you see / well, I'm givin' up on love this time / me and my friends, we'll do just fine / I've done everything for you / you've done nothing for me..."

"Don't Talk To Strangers":

The piano intro quickly goes upbeat guitar-pop in one of my favorite Springfield songs (complete with spoken French words mixed with English lyrics on the bridge). Springfield also turns in some intelligent social commentary in his witty lyrics here:

"...now tell me, how's life in the big city / I hear the competition's tough, baby it's a pity / and every man's an actor, every girl is pretty / I don't like what's getting back to me / now who's this Don Juan I've been hearing of / love hurts when only one's in love / did you fall at first sight or did you need a shove / ... / don't talk to strangers, baby don't you talk / don't talk to strangers, you know he'll only use you up..."

"Calling All Girls":

A little bit Foreigner, a little bit Beatles, "Calling All Girls" is a brilliant power pop tune that sets the toes to tappin' and makes your body shake to the music, while Springfield declares his intentions (no doubt welcomed by a legion of female fans):

"...I've got a message, put it through emergency / I wanna hear it on the radio tonight / calling all girls, if you're looking for love (you got it) / calling all girls, if you're looking for a hot time / calling all girls, if you're looking for fun / calling all girls, if you're looking for a good time tonight..."

"Human Touch":

Springfield remained pop with touches of electronic pop and disco rhythms thrown in on "Human Touch," a percussion-driven chorus that makes the tune sound like a rock anthem that laments the rise of computers in society and the loss of "the human touch":

"Everybody's talking to computers / they're all dancing to a drum machine / I know I'm living on the outside / scared of getting caught between / I'm so cool and calculated alone in the modern world / ... / we all need the human touch / we all need the human touch / I need the human touch..."

"Love Somebody":

Written by Springfield and co-producer Drescher, the tune exploded from the film "Hard To Hold" in 1984, a rocking, uplifting little ballad (with hints of Springsteen's "Born To Run" in the melody, in my opinion):

"...you better love somebody / it's late / you better love somebody / don't wait / you better love somebody / don't tempt fate / you're gonna pull you just a little too far / one night..."

"Love Is Alright Tonight":

Springfield including his first RCA album's title ("Working Class Dog") in the lyrics of his Top 20 hit, "Love Is Alright Tonight," an energetic rocker full of jangly guitar rhythms and a well-bashed drum kit, all building to a glorious pop, harmony-filled chorus:

"I'm picking up my baby tonight / though her daddy's making trouble / it will be alright / I'm working hard, I don't know why / I'm like a working class dog / and I just get by / tonight I'm crawling out from in it / and though we're livin' on the brink / second by second by minute by minute / love is alright tonight / we're gonna be alright / love is alright / love is alright tonight..."

"State Of The Heart":

One of the most beautiful pop ballads of the 1980's, "State Of The Heart" features an opening vocal effect that reminds one, seriously, of the the little girl in the film "Poltergist" calling to her family via their television set from a place inhabited by ghosts holding her hostage --- scary in the film, but sensitive and romantic in song, especially one with some cool lyrics:

"I know you're name / I told you mine / we've stopped and passed the time of day / you work in town / I work at night / that gives us six until seven to work this out / if I seem a little strange / it's just a state of the heart / I'm waiting here for you / in the state I'm in / you are the moon / I am the sea / you pull me in and gaze down on me / I was alone / I thought I was immune / the door can still be open wide / if I feel a little strange / it's just a state of the heart / I'm waiting here for you / in the state I'm in / it's just a state of the heart / I wait in the dark / I the state I'm in..."

"Souls"

There's some lovely lead guitar work on the bridge of this Springfrield-penned rocker with its irresistible chorus:

"...two souls searching for each other / one spirit looking for the other / caught between a hard, hard place and a rock / two souls searching for heaven / rolling the dice looking for a seven / to the tick, tick, ticking of time / gotta beat the clock..."

On the web:

The official site: the opening page at http://www.rickspringfield.com/ takes a while to download, so you may want to bypass it by going to the contents page at http://www.rickspringfield.com/RSdotcom/htmlpgs/home.html --- the site is very cool, with clips to new songs, a discography, Rick's in-progress auto-biography, an "Ask Rick" section, tour info, merchandise for sale and other little goodies.

Unofficial site: http://wendylittrell.tripod.com/rickbio.html

Unofficial site: http://www.rickrocks.net/

Unofficial site: http://www.rock-of-life.com/

Unofficial site: http://www.angelfire.com/ne/efx/rspringfieldbio.html

Related interest:

Rick Springfield and Beeb Birtles (of The Little River Band fame) were members of Australia's Top 40 band The Zoot. Their work appears on Zoot Locker: The Best Of The Zoot, 1968-1971: http://www.epinions.com/content_280651665028

Written In Rock: The Rick Springfield Anthology CD: http://www.epinions.com/content_213153648260

Special thanks:

To Epinions.Com Music Category Lead Shelly, aka Lambchops (http://www.epinions.com/user-lambchops), for adding this title to the site's database.


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