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songs that should have been singles

Posted: 09 Sep 2015, 20:19
by tobi777
Hi all,

just another post to keep this forum alive while we're waiting for some - any - news :)

If you were to choose - which songs should have been released as a single (additionally)? My list is:

- Because Of You (1978)
- Runaway (1982)
- Out Of The Darkness (1983)
- Shine, Shine, Shine (1984)
- Two Roads (1986)
- Windy Town (1987)
- Black Dog (1993)

I'm not saying these are the best songs ever - although they belong to my all time favourite list - but in my opinion they have a certain style and quality that would have made them good radio singles.

On the other hand the choice of singles actually made is sometimes quite strange to me:

- Bombollini is a lovely song but not a song to be played on the radio, too long, too complex
- It's All Gone is one of my favourites - but like Bombo too complex and long for radio stations
- Texas
- Tell Me There's A Heaven
- Heaven
- Nothing To Fear
- Johnny Needs A Fast Car

Again, these lists do not neccessarily reflect my favourites/non-favourites - it's all about radio compatibility :)

I deliberately chose from songs made between 1978 and 1993 (the "classic" phase) because in the nineties the concept of "real" singles became more and more obsolete - and if a radio station nowadays plays Chris in 99% of these cases they play his old songs.

Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 10 Sep 2015, 12:22
by andrew fischer
Hi Tobias and thanks again for starting out an amazing topic!

I do agree with your general idea, some songs which would have made a hit single were never released as singles, while some other songs that were made singles showed the inadequacy of the choice, whoever was in charge of picking a song for a single in Chris's team.

E.g, Windy Town could be a huge hit single, it even was played on a playback TV show in 1987 or 1988, not being a single, and it could be a perfect subsititute to Joys of Christmas, which was evidently inappropriate for a single .

Out of the Darkness, Two Roads and esepically Because of You are certainly perfect candidates for single release, which were unfairly rejected for some reason.

What for the other songs you put forward, instead of Runaway I would rather pick Do It for Your Love from the same album, it sounds really commercial and it bits and rhythmics were used for the disco version of Josephine in 1987. Instead of Black Dog from Banana Skin album I would rather choose I Ain't the Fool or There She Goes as milder love songs which seem to appear more pop-sounding. I recall Chris did not particularly like the final version of Black Dog, but the rest of the team liked it and Chris agreed to put on the album.

It's All Gone is doubtlessly better in its full length than in single edit, but you can say the same about On the Beach Summer'88, so I do not think it is a good example of a bad single.

Bombollini was also cut short and remixed for the single release and it lost its initial charm of a complex-structured piece, the same with Nothing to Fear, although it did rather well in the charts. Shine Shine Shine and There She Goes could be good corresponding alternatives for these long pieces that were made short for singles.

Tell Me There is a Heaven is a good choice for commercial use as it is a simple downtempo tune focusing on worldwide promlems which is good for charity use. Its popularity is very similar in its reasons to Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven, for instance.

Heaven could be replaced by a love song from Auberge album, And You My Love or Sing a Song of Love to Me, which became popular and received wide airplay even not being singles.

Texas and Johnny do not seem strange a choice for single in my eyes, they both sound commercially viable, upbeat and energetic, with simple lyrics and memorable melodies.

It is peculiar that you determine the "classic phase" as 1978-1993, for me it is rather 1987-1998. I do not agree that physical singles lost their meaning in 90s, I think they were still up-to-date until early 2000s and many radio stations play a lot of late 90s Chris (Blue Cafe, Sweet Summer Day, All Summer Long).

Thanks again and best regads

Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 10 Sep 2015, 16:33
by tobi777
Hi Andrey,

thank you - as always - for your detailed post and your insights.

Of course I forgot "Joys Of Christmas" - it must indeed have been the strangest decision ever to release it as a single. "Sing A Song Of Love To Me" is one of my favourite tracks ever, so how could I forget it, too? :shock:

You are right regarding the airplay of "real" singles in the 90s. The decline came later. But at least in Germany most of the radio stations that play more current chart hits seemed to have turned away from Chris' music after "Espresso Logic". I can remember that "Julia" has been played quite frequently at that time - but that's it. And the other stations that are more focussed on oldies also don't care about the tracks that came later but stick to the obvious songs like "Josephine" etc.

In my opinion the Warner albums that came after "Espresso Logic" left a lot to be desired: low-key production, drum machines, too many recycled ideas, mediocre songwriting (just my personal opinion!). Also the sales figures decreased and the concert venues grew smaller.

So maybe this added up to my impression that the classic phase was 1978-1993. To be precise there were more phases or milestones:

1978 - 1981: initial success followed by commercial failure, strict guidance by the record company, lack of freedom
1983 - 1986: turnaround, breakthrough, growing fanbase and record sales, more elaborate productions
1987 - 1993: "superstar", high record sales (at least LPs), huge venues
1994 - 2001: illness, decreasing sales and a phase of lack of creativity (again, just my taste!)
2002 - ???? : The Blues phase

Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 10 Sep 2015, 17:00
by andrew fischer
Hi again Tobias,

I generally agree with your Chris Rea's career "phasing" and I do understand your impression over the late 90 s period. I know a lot of people who treat it in the same way.

But to me the period between 2 major operations (1994-2000) is not a creativity decline but an experimantal period. Chris just got tired of the overproduction he had been getting from his record label people in his "golden years" that is why he shifted down to simplier production by himself, launched several unexpected projects, including La Passione, and started experimenting with electronica, which was fashionable in those years, among the rock musicians as well (Clapton, Sting, Gary Moore, etc.) I do not consider these attempts as bad as they are pulbically claimed to be, on the contrary, I respect Chris for the courage he took to bring these projects to life in a battle with commercial people. La Passione for me is the best ever album of Chris, considering its history, production and the whole idea. The Blue Cafe is an album of simple but very well recorded music. RTH part 2 is a very brave experiment and a very holistic album which follows its main idea from the 1st track to the last. King of the Beach is very close to The Blue Cafe in its production and maybe even more commercially-oriented, but remember that due to illness and cancelled tour Chris was forced to release it before he considered it finished.

Chris was very popular in Russia and other post-Soviet countires in late 90s and The Blue Cafe was a real hit and it still considered a hit now. I always thought it was the same in Germany, now I see it was not, thank you.

best regards

Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 10 Sep 2015, 19:57
by tobi777
Hi again :D

Don't get me wrong: "Blue Café" was far from being a flop and I don't have any figures about record sales of the individual albums in Germany - and "Blue Café" was of course much more successful than his first albums - but compared to "Auberge" or the likes it was much lower and you could feel that a lot of people were not too interested anymore, although the media echo was stronger than for "Espresso Logic" with the title song in the famous TV-series "Tatort" and a lot of interviews in print magazines etc.

In 1993 he played the "Deutschlandhalle" with a capacity of about 10.000 (sold out if I remember correctly) and in 1998 it was the ICC with about 5.000 seats (and not sold out). I know a lot of concert goers are not "real" fans but only know the hits and if these hits don't keep on coming or there's a big gap like it was between '93 and '98 many lose interest. I don't care about these people but in terms of commercial success they are most important, unfortunately.

But you raise another most interesting topic: I noticed that - like you said - Chris has always been very popular in Russia and also the other east-european countries. Any idea why? Is it because he is one of the few artists who have played there a lot of times? Or is it maybe that his kind of music (singing, harmonies, melodies etc.) strike a chord (literally :lol: ) in these people?


Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 11 Sep 2015, 11:16
by andrew fischer
Hi again Tobias,

thanks for your comments.

It is evident that the publical perception in Germany where Chris has always been very popular became poorer after the long hiatus due to the illness and the peculiarity of La Passione. It was logical not to launch the same type of tour as in "golden years" that is why the tour was rather small and so were the venues - the risk of failure was too high and the tour manages were right in being careful.

It was quite another way in Russia: The Blue Cafe came right in time, when Chris's "golden years" recordings became widely known after the end of the Soviets. I remember that Chris's records only appeared in music stores in 1994-95 and their amount was very scarce and much wanted, as their radio airplay was very heavy in mid and late 90s and although hardly many people knew of Chris before that, he was more than warmly welcomed, especially by the elderly people. La Passione flop was sidekicked by the big hits and came almost unnoticed while The Blue Cafe continued the wave of Chris's hits popularity. Chris first visited Russia during The Blue Cafe tour and that was a huge event in Russian media, both large venues in St. Pete and Moscow were almost sold out.

As far I am aware, Chris visited Poland with a big gig for the first time that year as well, after his long-forgotten 1978 experience in Szetzin, of which he wrote the song Candles. I am not 100% sure but I reckon Chris never visited any other socialistic country prior to 1998, and the next time he came here was only in 2006, so touring is obviouly not the reason of popularity here.

I think such musicians like Chris Rea, Mark Knopfler, Sting, Chris De Burgh etc. became very popular in Russia and CIS because after the strong lack of information and availability of western music in USSR and early CIS, the people wanted to listen to as much Englsih-language music as possible but most of them focused on the milder mainstream styles of the likes of these abovementioned singers-songwriters, rather than hard-rockers or pop-singers. Maybe because such artists sounded pretty similar to the late Soviet artists - bards, underground rockers and schlager-singers. Hope I managed to explain.

best regards and thanks again,

Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 11 Sep 2015, 19:42
by ann268
Hi all.

Windy Town is wonderful, woud have been a hit.
Many B sides are to wonderful for B sides too,
I wasn't a fan yet in the Golden Years, but got to know a few:
Don't turn away was very good! I'm Taking the day out,summerhit!
Another happy and poppy song: Look out for me. A typical Chris Rea song.
And wat about those songs he made with others, Bands like Snowy White~Highway to the sun and The Vargas Blues Band~Do you believe in love. And I think there are more.
This man is just wonderful and underestimated.

Best wishes,

Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 12 Sep 2015, 10:15
by andrew fischer
And wat about those songs he made with others, Bands like Snowy White~Highway to the sun and The Vargas Blues Band~Do you believe in love.
Hi Anneke,

The song Highway to the Sun from eponimous album of Snowie White was released as single, which even had Chris Rea's name on its cover along with Snowie's: Image

The duet song with Vargas Blues Band was not a single, as far as I know, but I am sure it received some decent airplay neverhteless, as it sounds very commercial for a blues song and was evidently supposed to be a big hit of this then-young band as Chris Rea himself took part, in his best years.

And yes, mane a B-side of Chris could make a wonderful A-side, but it could also bring harm to them as they could have become too popular and over-airplayed like some of his big hits.

Thanks for your comments and best wishes

Re: songs that should have been singles

Posted: 12 Sep 2015, 10:41
by ann268
Didn't know it was a single! Learning every day :).
And I'm grateful Rea isn't to big in his successes, Josephine and On the Beach, not to mention Driving home for X-mas were very succesful here in the netherlands. That makes them annoying and sadly elevator music.
Don't want that at all.

Best wishes,