Rick Springfield in overdrive

7

August

Rick_springfield What's Rick Springfield's secret? Easy. He gives his fans exactly what they want -- impassioned, infectious power-pop that sticks to his rock n' roll roots and defies the music industry's temptation to weasel off modern dance-floor beats.

(It doesn't help that he's a soap-opera star with timeless good looks who bends over backwards to show his appreciation right back at ya.)

Rick has a new album out -- "Venus in Overdrive" -- only his fourth disc since his '80s hey-days. And if you haven't been keeping up with his post "Jessie's Girl" days, that's your loss because "Venus" continues Rick's winning streak of catchy, entertaining work that reaches far beyond any "soccer mom" reputation that might get unfairly plastered on his fan base.

Here are some highlights:

WHAT'S THE SECRET? Like a lot of albums in the post-LP, iTunes world of music, "Venus" stacks the best tunes right at the top. The first cut might sound most familiar -- a catchy rock teaser called "What's Victoria's Secret?" that echoes the guitar hooks of "Jessie's Girl." Don't let the cutesy title throw you. This is a must download and will find its way onto your most-played list in no time. [Video]

WATCH THE LANGUAGE: It's shocking to hear a few not-safe-for-TV words sneak into a Springfield song, but Rick's a prankster in "I'll Miss That Someday," setting up a would-be naughty moment with the line:" Each love can turn out to be shi ... valry." This is gonna be fun tune to hear live in concert. [Live performance]

TAKE THE RIDE: "One Passenger" is another tune that will stick in the head after you reach the amped-up chorus: When I find the silver lining turns to gray, I'm just one passenger on this train."

FAIR WARNING: Longtime fans will be surprised by "Warning Shots," a dark but intense explosion that entertains while it frightens.

GETTING HIS BEATLE ON: At age 58, Rick was no doubt influenced by the lads of Liverpool, but it's never really been evident in his music until you hear "She," a Lennon-tinged tune that sounds like it could have been produced by Sir George Martin himself.

HIS PATRON SAINT: The last track on "Venus" is probably the most sentimental. "Saint Sahara" is a tribute to the passing of longtime fan teenage fan Sahara Aldridge: "Come on, Sahara. Give us a smile. You walked this far with us. Let's walk one more mile."

BONUS FEATURES: Depending on where you buy "Venus in Overdrive," some extras await you. The disc I bought at Best Buy contains two bonus tracks: a cover version of The Who's "My Generation" and an acoustic version of "Jessie's Girl." Plus, your music CD unlocks a bonus area on the Internet that includes interviews, music videos and photos. His official website also has a ton of extra features for hard-core fans.

FINAL VERDICT: Some of the elite music writers may whine about the shiny studio gloss that wraps itself around the 12 tracks, but they're missing the bigger point. Rick Springfield is relevant and necessary today for the same reason he was 25 years ago: His rock and his passion are meant not for the critics, but for the fans.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:37pm]

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