Taste is a personal thing but you must have listened at least ones to “Crusader”, the album of Chris De Burgh from 1979. For those who are familiar with the work of The Alan Parsons Project, this album will be a feast of recognition. On guitar there is none other than the masterful Ian Bairnson and the rhythm tandem (you guessed it) consists of bassist David Paton and drummer Stuart Elliott. To top it all off, De Burgh invoked arranger Andrew Powell who wrote beautiful orchestral and choral parts for the album. Of course he conducted it all and he also produced the album. Don’t expect “Crusader” to sound like an album by Parsons and Project, it’s unmistakably an effort by Chris De Burgh.
“Crusader” consists of twelve compositions that vary from ballads to mid-tempo pop songs with occasionally a smoother rhythm. Eight of them have a songbased structure, three pieces serve the atmosphere of the album and one track can be indicated as an epic.
The almost nine-minute title track stands high above the rest. Beautiful orchestrations with De Burgh who is expressing all his feelings, Bairnson who plays a great guitar solo and the rousing choir in the final make this song a cinematic audio sensation. Actually, the song is the outburst of all the tracks before.
Let’s discuss some songs, there is a lot going on on “Crusader”. Opener Carry On beautifully reflects the two sides of the Irish singer-songwriter. In an always intense mode, he knows how to express himself sensitively, then exuberantly. Great piano playing and beautiful orchestrations frame his presence, while he is mainly busy with a kind of AOR-light. I Had The Love In My Eyes is a typical De Burgh ballad with a beautiful solo on the French horn at the end. One of the most spectacular ‘regular’ songs is Just In Time. Especially the piece after the tempo acceleration shows a devoted drive. It’s these kinds of passages that make “Crusader” so special.
The album shows well the compositional integrity of De Burgh. Songs like It’s Such A Long Way Home and Old-Fashioned People are beautiful pieces of melancholy that shows De Burghs fine skills of writing ballads.
The conclusion is simple: “Crusader” is a surprisingly good album. You will do yourself no favor if you haven’t listened to it.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022