1991 East West Records
Once I saw Chris Rea perform live. It was in ’84 during the famous Festival Torhout/Werchter in Belgium. I can barely remember anything about the concert itself, but I do remember that Rea played on a red Stratocaster. More than thirty years later I came across a recording of the performance on the internet and well, that was excellent. Since then I have bought several albums by Mr. Rea. I can listen to his music well, his voice appeals to me, he can play the guitar excellently and he also knows how to play the Hammond organ. In addition, his compositions are well put together and tastefully arranged. Moreover, his soft blues is a great counterbalance to all those proggy habits of mine.
The first album of him I bought was “Auberge” and I hear an enthusiastic musician who has not used his many years of experience to make it a routine job.
“Auberge” is the eleventh album by Rea and striking is that the atmosphere of the music is generally quite calm and relaxed in nature. That can hardly be otherwise with such a laidback voice. Rea is completely in his element in ballads such as Gone Fishing, Heaven and Sing A Song Of Love To Me. But also a song like Looking For The Summer has a sultry atmosphere despite a somewhat smoother rhythm.
Here and there are of course some more uptempo songs. The opening title track continues after a difficult start as a smooth Dire Straight-like song complete with psychedelic slide guitar and cheering horns. As far as I’m concerned, one of the best tracks is Set Me Free. The beginning of it is still quite subdued, eventually a blissful chord scheme presents itself on which Rea and his people go completely wild. I also experienced a few minutes of shameless pleasure here and to be honest: the reggea-tinted Every Second Counts also achieves that feeling. Actually, the album only has one weak song which is the smooth Red Shoes. However, it is brilliant that the tuba plays the bass line here.
A lot of instruments are used on the album. For example, we regularly hear the grand piano played by Max Middleton (Jeff Beck, Kate Bush, Snowy White) and he has also written beautiful string arrangements. In addition, there are various types of guitar present. In the last three songs, the Fender Rhodes, electric piano makes its appearance. It provides a touch of melancholy. The aforementioned Looking For The Summer benefits from it and audience favorite And You My Love also does. The album closes wonderfully with the orchestral The Mention Of Your Name that evokes images of lots of red wine.
Finally, Chris Rea once had a hit with I Don’t Know What It Is But I Love It. Enough said.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022