Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Great American Song Writer

Doubtless many of you who know the name Rupert Holmes will do so for his clever 80s song – ‘Escape (The Pina Colada Song)’. But others may have heard of him through his Tony Award winning ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ or more recently you may have come across his novels, Where The Truth Lies or Swing – both are great reads and well worth buying.

I was introduced to his music when I heard the brilliant ‘Our National Pastime’ on the radio – probably Capitol Radio in London in 1974. I bet it was Kenny Everett who played it, although come to think of it, it may have been Roger Scott. It comes from an album called ‘Widescreen’ that came out on Epic and of course having heard the single, and loving it, I bought the LP. The single is nothing like the album and very like the album. It is lyrically very clever, which is true of the whole album. It is also great catchy pop, but the rest of the LP is much better melodically than ONP – which is none the less hugely catchy.

Tracks such as ‘Phantom of the Opera’ just invite you to listen because of its great hook and clever production; similarly ‘Bagdad’ and ‘Talk’. However, the standout tracks for me are the title track, ‘Letters That Cross In The Mail’ (later covered by Barbra Streisand quite beautifully - she also did ‘Widescreen’, but not nearly as well as Rupert) and ‘Soap Opera’. The latter track is about as lyrically clever as you could ever want a song to be – it ranks up there with Sammy Cahn for me.

For more on the genius of Rupert Holmes check out his web site

1 comment:

r morris said...

Thanks for the review, Richard.
FYI, I ordered Average White Band from Amazon and got it a few days ago, on your recommendation.
Awesome sound.
The fact that these guys are Scots makes this album almost as remarkable as if a bunch of black guys from Philly put on kilts and played bagpipes.