IÁ¢€â„¢m not scared Á¢€” IÁ¢€â„¢ll come right out and say it.

Rick Springfield is one of power popÁ¢€â„¢s unsung heroes and should be held up right next to your Eric Carmens, Matthew Sweets and Alex Chiltons.


While heÁ¢€â„¢s primarily known for his impressive string of hits in the Á¢€Ëœ80s, Springfield actually got started in the early Á¢€Ëœ70s, scoring his first Top 40 hit, Á¢€Å“Speak to the SkyÁ¢€, in 1972. Some lean years and a gig as an animated Saturday morning cartoon character on Á¢€Å“Mission MagicÁ¢€ followed, until Rick scored a gig on ABCÁ¢€â„¢s Á¢€Å“General HospitalÁ¢€ as Dr. Noah Drake. This just happened to coincide with the release of his Á¢€Å“Working Class DogÁ¢€ album, a record that front to back is packed with power pop classics, like Á¢€Å“JesseÁ¢€â„¢s GirlÁ¢€, Á¢€Å“IÁ¢€â„¢ve Done Everything For YouÁ¢€ (written by Sammy Hagar), and my favorite, Á¢€Å“Love Is Alright TonightÁ¢€.

“Love Is Alright Tonight” has some seriously evil lyrics, especially coming from a heavily promoted “teen idol”:

DonÁ¢€â„¢t worry daddy, IÁ¢€â„¢ll have her home at a respectable hour
Go to sleep daddy, you wonÁ¢€â„¢t think about tonight
With the night comes a feeling of incredible power
Gonna love her daddy, sheÁ¢€â„¢ll be feeling it tonight…

Oh, Rick. You scamp.

ThereÁ¢€â„¢s no Á¢€Å“guiltyÁ¢€ modifier to be added to the pleasure in these songs Á¢€” theyÁ¢€â„¢re three to three and a half minutes of well-composed, tightly played power pop. SpringfieldÁ¢€â„¢s fluffy teen idol image overshadowed the work at the time, but listen to these songs now and they hold up. Timeless. You can put on Á¢€Å“Love Is Alright TonightÁ¢€ and crank it, whether itÁ¢€â„¢s 1981 or 2005. In fact, I often do.

Now, if Rick made any mistakes in his career, it was jumping on the movie gravy train and getting a bit overexposed via his starring vehicle, Á¢€Å“Hard to Hold.Á¢€ And musically, he started to veer away from the four-piece guitar-based ensemble and experiment with synths. A LOT of synths. Songs like Á¢€Å“Human TouchÁ¢€, Á¢€Å“Celebrate YouthÁ¢€ and Á¢€Å“Rock of LifeÁ¢€ are oozing with dated swooshes, bleeps and bloops. But even in this keyboard-heavy later period, Rick could pull out a stunning, deceptively simple song like Á¢€Å“State of the HeartÁ¢€.

Rick is still recording today, and even had a sizeable Adult Contemporary hit last year called Á¢€Å“Beautiful YouÁ¢€. But track for track, you wonÁ¢€â„¢t find anything as powerful as the one-two punch of the Á¢€Å“Working Class DogÁ¢€ and Á¢€Å“Success HasnÁ¢€â„¢t Spoiled Me YetÁ¢€ albums. These two need some serious remastering and reissuing.

And power pop history needs to recognize Rick.

Download Á¢€Å“Love Is Alright TonightÁ¢€.
Download Á¢€Å“State of the HeartÁ¢€.

Buy Rick Springfield CDs here.

Á¢€Love Is Alright TonightÁ¢€ peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982.
Á¢€Å“State of the HeartÁ¢€ peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 chart in 1985.

About the Author

John C. Hughes

John C. Hughes began his Lost in the ’80s blog in 2005 and is now proud to be a member of the Popdose family, where he’s introduced LIT80s’s companions, the obviously named Lost in the ’70s and Lost in the ’90s, alongside the slightly more originally named Why You Should Like…

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