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Few artists have crossed as many boundaries and tested as many limits as Rick Springfield. He’s rarely delivered an album that sounded much like the one before it. Yet you always know just who it is. Rick has taken a true hard left on a few occasions.
And for the most part, his dedicated fan base has followed every step of the way. I say for the most part, because even though I can’t think of a bigger RS fan than myself, there are a couple of albums that sit on my shelf more to satisfy my completist compulsions. And to be honest, they probably sit more because I’m always playing my favourite RS material. So on a gut feeling that this was something ‘he just had to do’, Rick takes one of the bigger detours of his career, diving into a full service blues album. Well…mostly.
Fans will be familiar with Rick’s love of the blues. Several times over the years he has leant in that direction on an individual song or two. There are still very familiar aspects to ‘The Snake King’. One is of course Rick’s warm voice and those lyrics – delving into familiar subjects like spirituality, God, relationships, sex, depression and temptation.
There is also some familiarity in the music. In fact, there’s a few tunes that could easily have appeared on ‘Rocket Science’ – the fairly breezy country tinged opener Land Of The Blind; plus the cool relaxed Blues For The Disillusioned and the 10 minute long Orpheus In The Underworld, which is quite possibly the most lyrics ever written for any song…ever!
In-between those are some truly impressive examples of some genuine delta blues riffing, complete with harmonica, brass and some guitar playing that really impresses – both fast rocking and slower traditional blues rhythms. Most impressive here, besides the trio of more recognisable Rick songs are the title track; the heavier rock of Little Demon – which converts to a slow guitar solo of pure class; the lyrically dark, rollicking double time blues of Suicide Manifesto and the quite commercial Voodoo House.
And a special mention for the intense title track The Snake King, with its amazing slide guitar. There’s more than enough here for most dedicated fans to appreciate. For others it might be a case of heading to iTunes and picking and choosing personal favourites, one advantage of this digital age.
The Snake King is a mood album. For me it may not played at the lengths previous albums have been, but I do know that when the mood does arise, I will enjoy this without question. It’s too good not to. Bottom line – The Snake King is all class as usual, as expected.