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Written In Rock: The Rick Springfield Anthology

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Album Review

Rick Springfield deserves better than being written off as nothing more than a slight teen idol, as he so frequently is. Of course, it's easy to see why he's been pegged as nothing more than teenybopper fodder. He had pinup good looks, which led him to a starring role as Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera General Hospital, which was his regular gig when his 1981 album, Working Class Dog, and its number one hit single, "Jessie's Girl," stormed the U.S. charts, kicking off nearly five years of Top Ten hits. During that hot streak, Springfield was all over teen magazines and the airwaves, seizing the opportunity to be ubiquitous, and who could blame him? He may have been an overnight sensation, but it came with over a decade's worth of hard work, beginning with the psych-tinged heavy rock band Zoot in his native Australia and leading him through flirtations with mellow singer/songwriter tunes, prog, glorious AM bubblegum, and power pop, before winding up with the sleek, mainstream pop/rock that brought him fame with Working Class Dog. That progression, along with the aftermath of his fame, is charted on RCA/Legacy's excellent 2005 compilation Written in Rock: The Rick Springfield Anthology, a 42-track, double-disc set, compiled with the assistance of Springfield (who also contributes terrific liner notes), that covers his entire career. To those who think of Springfield as a lightweight, the very existence of such a hefty career overview may seem ridiculous, but Written in Rock makes an excellent case for his skills as a hooky, tremendously appealing pop star. To snobs, this is the kind of music that's written off as a guilty pleasure — it's filled with huge, forceful hooks and delivered in slick production that always evokes its era, whether it's the soft focus of the early '70s, the synth-laden fallout of new wave in the early '80s, or the big, meticulously recorded polish of the '90s — but so be it: that doesn't mean that it's anything less than a pleasure. In particular, his hot streak of the early '80s retains its glitz and kinetic energy, the perfect mix of arena rock, power pop, and new wave, but the real revelation of the set is how terrific the cuts from the '70s are: the rollicking Jesus rock of "Speak to the Sky" managed to hit number 14 in 1972 and it sounds as joyous and irresistible as ever here, but the cuts from 1974's Comic Book Heroes and especially 1976's Wait for Night illustrate that Springfield was quite a talented and versatile pop/rocker nearly a decade before his big breakthrough (here's hoping that they will finally get widespread CD reissue in the wake of this set). In fact, the biggest weakness of this set is that it glosses over the '70s rather quickly, devoting perhaps a little bit too much space to his post-hitmaking years (the final ten songs all date from 1988 to 2004), but even that material showcases a rocker who is a more versatile writer and musician than he's given credit for, and it's also more emotionally open to boot. Even at its considerable length, Written in Rock has a couple of omissions — his wonderful bubblegum soundtrack for the animated early-'70s TV show Mission Magic is regrettably absent, as are such smaller hits as "What Would the Children Think," "Bruce," and "Taxi Dancing" — but these are minor flaws since, as a whole, the collection offers a thorough, entertaining, and winning overview of this perennially underrated pop star.

Customer Reviews

The One To Buy

No greatest hits package is ever perfect, but this one comes mighty close. This is pretty much one-stop shopping here. Just about everything a novice fan could ever want, or need, by the criminally under-rated Rick Springfield. As ever, there are songs that should be here that are missing, some live tracks used when their studio counterparts are far superior, and not a note of "Mission Magic" anywhere. But what is here is a good cross section of his entire career, including a number of rather good pre-"Jesse's Girl" tracks (including a very interesting take on the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby"), nearly all the hits from his 80's heyday, some great album cuts, and a look at his post 80's work (although I must say a bit too much emphasis on this material, but it's good to have it), all compiled uner Rick's supervision. In addition to the larger track list, what seperates this one from the pack of the seemingly endless number of Springfield greatest hit collections out there is the vastly superior sound quality. This is easilly the best remaster of his material out there. By the end, you come away with a deeper appreciation of Springfield's songwriting and his under-rateed guitar chops. So yeah, this one may be a bit more expensive than the other collections, but this is easilly more bang for your buck. This is the one Springfield collection that everyone should own. Oh yeah....and get the CD. The very detailed liner notes, written by Rick himself, are well worth checking out for a deeper appreciation of his career. Why Apple didn't include a digital booklet with this collection is criminal.

Buy this , then buy the new album 7-29-08

Not to sound bias but RICK HAS STILL GOT IT. If you like what you hear on these two cd's you should realy check into seeing him life. It will knock your socks off.

Written In Rock: The Rick Springfield Anthology

Springfield was written off as a flash in the pan, but he had real talent & still does. He is great in concert, actually knows how to play guitar, & writes most of his songs. This is a great CD period. Fun & all his best hits.


Born: August 23, 1949 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australi

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although Rick Springfield's music was frequently dismissed as vapid teen idol fare, his best moments have actually withstood the test of time far better than most critics would ever have imagined, emerging as some of the most well-crafted mainstream power pop of the 1980s. A singer-turned soap opera star-turned singer, Springfield was born Richard Springthorpe on August 23, 1949, in Sydney, Australia, to a military man; the family moved around Australia and England a great deal during Rick's childhood,...
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Written In Rock: The Rick Springfield Anthology, Rick Springfield
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