Picks and Pans Review: Living in Oz

Rick Springfield

It’s easy to dismiss Springfield as a singer. He did, after all, become famous playing a TV soap opera doctor. His current, post-General Hospital image isn’t too serious, either, as is attested to by the cover photo on this album. It shows Springfield, with an earring, carefully tousled hair, a wimpy patch of stubble and a baleful look, staring out at his adoring teens. His singing and his songs are another matter. He has a strong pop-rock voice, limited in range and nuance but fine and powerful. His tunes vary from standard no-apologies-needed stuff—though it’s heavy on sexuality—to some material that’s almost thoughtful, at least for this genre. Like Father, Like Son, about a boy with a domineering father, is amazingly pointed for a pop tune: “Fear of God and the feel of the rod/Will raise a good boy.” (Springfield’s father was a lieutenant colonel in the Australian Army, but Rick has said, “He was one of the gentlest people I’ve ever known.”) Forgive him for singing “We all need the human touch” on a track laden with synthesizers; forgive him for not being Caruso or Keats. If you’re in a generous mood, forgive him the earring and the rest of the album photo. The man proves he’s not just a pretty face.

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