Chris Rainbow

Home of the Brave

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

It must have felt like something of a coup for the little-known Scottish singer/songwriter Chris Rainbow to get teamed up with one of America's hottest production teams of the early '70s. Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff had been crucial in transforming the work of Stevie Wonder on albums like Music of My Mind and Talking Book, and were also known for their pioneering Moog albums under the name of T.O.N.T.O.'s Expanding Head Band. The pair had evolved a genuinely distinctive production sound based on a subtle and atmospheric blend of synthesizers and live instruments. Though most synth-dominated albums from the mid-'70s long since started to show their age to the point where they've become lionized by the whole retro analog-synth movement, Home of the Brave wears its years lightly. No little credit for this must go to Cecil and Margouleff's subtly layered arrangements, yet far more is due to Rainbow's command of timeless melody and vocal harmonies. By the time Home of the Brave was released, he was already starting to carve a moderately successful niche as a purveyor of undemanding soft rock, yet here he suggested he was capable of so much more. Like many songwriters, Rainbow was clearly in thrall to Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson, and his album's default setting is a kind of languid and wistful evocation of happy days on sun-kissed beaches drawing to a close. Songs like "Is the Summer Really Over?" and "On My Way" in themselves would have guaranteed Home of the Brave a place in the affections of any listener disappointed by the results of the latest Brian-is-back campaign. But on two tracks, Rainbow proved himself to be more than just another Wilson acolyte. The epic title track boasts not one, but two serenely winding melodies worthy of the man himself and beautifully arranged by Cecil and Margouleff. Yet the standout track is one that whisks the listener far away from the sound of gently crashing surf back to the mean streets of Glasgow. With Rainbow's aching voice accompanied only by piano and the ambient sounds of lashing rain and running feet, "Glasgow Boy" is a heartbreaking lament for the senseless waste of Saturday night street warfare framed by a stunning melody. Though Rainbow went on to hold down a variety of jobs that probably earned him more than all his solo records put together -- including vocalist with the Alan Parsons Project and Camel -- "Home of the Brave" and "Glasgow Boy" remain as tantalizing reminders of what might have been.

blue highlight denotes track pick