Friday, August 11, 2017

"Bruce" by Rick Springfield

Song#:  2128
Date:  11/17/1984
Debut:  81
Peak:  27
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Long before Springfield was singing about "Jessie's Girl," he had recorded a handful of albums for a few labels and even scored a #16 hit in 1971 called "Speak to the Sky." After his fourth album, 1976's Wait for Night, could only muster the #41 single "Take a Hand," Springfield was again searching for another label and another chance to hit the charts. He signed on with Mercury in 1977 and began to work on a new album. Although the album was mostly completed, it didn't seem to work for the label and the project got shelved. Perhaps due to the success of Bruce Springsteen, in 1980 the label decided to send out this song as a single. It failed to do anything. Flash forward a few years and now Springfield has become a platinum-selling artist. Someone at Mercury then remember that they owned an album's worth of tracks from Springfield. They dug them out of the vaults to see what could be done with them. Although Springfield's vocals were intact and fine, the music seemed to lack a bit for the 80s market. So the label completely re-recorded the backing tracks and then added Springfield's voice to them. All this was done without consent or involvement from Springfield. When completed, the LP got released as Beautiful Feelings. To promote the album, "Bruce" was once again released. By this time, both Springsteen and Springfield were on the charts together and arguably at the heights of their careers and this helped the single get into the Pop Top 30. The album sold a few copies and Mercury probably made a few bucks off of it.

ReduxReview:  I was aware of this quick cash-in scheme from the label before it was released. I mean, really. If the songs were truly any good, or even slightly good, the label would have issued them back in the day. But they didn't. They obviously thought it was not worth releasing. However, that tune can change when all of a sudden the artist becomes a big star. Then they see dollar signs. So Mercury trotted this album out much in the same way Motown did their own cash-in project with some old Michael Jackson recordings (Farewell My Summer Love) earlier the same year. Now, I'm all for issuing old, unreleased tracks from an artist. They can be interesting and sometimes even very good. But those are usually done with the artist's approval and/or involvement. Projects like this one where they just did what they wanted and shoved it out in hopes of making a quick buck are reprehensible. As for this song, I never really liked it. The one-note humor of a situation wears out after one listen and the music/performance can't compare to his 80s hits. I would have been fine if this had been left locked in the label's vault.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Springfield wrote this song based around experiences he had with people who mistook him for Bruce Springsteen. Initially, being called Bruce bothered Springfield. But after a while, he treated it as a joke and to play off of that he wrote this humorous song.  2) Years later in 2007, the songs from the Mercury sessions were revisited. Those original studio versions were collected and released as The Early Sound City Sessions. The CD included the songs that would go on to make up Beautiful Feelings plus one extra unreleased track.


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