27/12/15 – Chris Rea – Tennis – 1980

Song Of The Day

Chris Rea Tennis Album cover 1980When a commercial artist does something weird, it’s better than a weird artist doing something normal. Chris Rea was born in Middlesborough in 1951 to an Italian father and an Irish mother, his first album, Whatever Happened To Benny Santini is so named because that’s what a record company insisted he called an earlier version of himself – it didn’t work. On that first album Rea had a US Top 20 hit with Fool (If You Think It’s Over) but the album failed to chart in the UK or the US. He then made three albums with no hits and rather low chart positions, Deltics (1979) No.54 UK, Tennis (1982) No.60 UK, Chris Rea (1982) No.52 UK, till his fifth album Water Sign (1983) made it to No.7 in Sweden, No.64 UK. A slow rise in Europe till his tenth and eleventh albums finally made him the commercial artist he always wanted to be with The Road To Hell (1989) and his next album Auberge (1990) both making it to No.1 in the UK . The rest probably doesn’t interest you, except to say in 2005 he released an ambitious 138 track box set called Blue Guitar dedicated to the Blues that had 11 CD’s a DVD and a book that featured his paintings. The artists you disregard as commercial and of no interest are deeper than you think, but I get it, like most of you reading this, I do prefer Echo And The Bunnymen to Chris Rea but how do I get the 30 million people that bought his records to read this?

Tennis was very strange, lyrics below, an interesting idea and bizarre video, a strange album title and cover art, it’s not Captain Beefheart but it’s not exactly catering for the masses either. The pounding bass that starts the song makes it sound like it could almost be one of those early eighties indie bands. As for the rest of the album, well it’s not on Spotify and he’s not interesting enough for anyone to post it on You Tube – my copy is in the archive in Cornwall, I frankly don’t remember if the rest of the record is weird in any way or simply an unsuccessful commercial artist that hasn’t found his audience yet, hasn’t written the super hit that was to be The Road To Hell in 1989.

This post concludes my north eastern journey and I know Easybeats’ Stevie Wright died and it snowed in Stockholm finally and the world keeps turning  at a terrible speed and there’s so much to do and no time to do it and when I think about Chris Rea selling 30 million albums, I wish him good luck.

In the morning madness and the stabbing light
She pours the coffee and she says
“What was wrong with you last night?”
“Dreams, just dreams my love, we’re half asleep”
But the headline’s on tennis
So it seems, everything’s all right
There’s a girl from the Midwest, with a pretty face
Scratched where it itched, they said it was a disgrace
“I don’t wanna go to work today
Wanna stay at home and watch that girl play”
Do you like tennis?
Yes I do

There are people in boats in the middle of the sea
Crying and dying like Jews
Do you like tennis?
Freedom is the man with the red grenade
She ran out of gas, got beat and raped
Do you like tennis?
Well do you like tennis?
Yes I do





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