Rick Springfield’s Beginnings dispels the myth that he was a soap opera star first and a musician second, as it predates General Hospital and “Jessie’s Girl” by almost a decade. Indeed, Springfield had a hit in Australia in the early 70’s with “Speak to the Sky” before he even moved to America. It was a different version than the remade American version here, which reached the Billboard Top 20. This album made it to number 35 Billboard‘s Top 200 albums chart, but was seriously hindered by controversy surrounding possible record label misconduct and some very bad marketing decisions. The company wanted Springfield to be a “teen idol” and the album cover and inside photos depict him that way, but Springfield’s writing didn’t always fit the mode. It is obvious that he wanted to be taken seriously as a musician even at this early stage.
Now, 40 years after the album failed to make Springfield the star he would later become, Real Gone has re-issued it and many fans will be hearing it for the first time. Others will probably have forgotten it and will be hearing it in a musical world that has changed drastically since the ’70s.
I don’t really feel that most of this recording has held up well for modern audiences. Tastes have changed so much since the ’70s. Now, the very dark “The Unhappy Ending” and the McCartney-ish, melodramatic “What Would the Children Think?” sound jarringly out of place with the lighter, more bubblegum songs on the album. In the context of the ’70s, “Hooky Jo” makes sense, but the bouncy, cheerful tune mixed with the somber war theme sounds strange taken out of its time and place.
Altogether, while “Speak to The Sky” and “Mother, Can You Carry Me?” hold up well, and most of the songs on the album at least show promise of the great things Springfield went on to do after this, this album feels dated and unfocused now. It is interesting for historical value and as a collector’s item, and Real Gone has done a great job with the packaging, but Capitol did not do Springfield justice with their marketing or their guidance in choosing material for the album.
Buy this if you are already a a Rick Springfield fan and want to hear his early work, or if you are a big fan of the ’70s sound, in which case you may enjoy hearing how it is interpreted here. Otherwise, you might want to stick to his later work, particularly that which followed “Jessie’s Girl.”