Long before Rick Springfield was a soapie star on American television or riding the U.S. charts with the pop/rock of "Jessie's Girl" and "Don't Talk to Strangers," the Australian-born heartthrob played rock & roll with a variety of bands in his country of origin. The most successful of those outfits, the Zoot, scored a hit in 1969 with a heavy'n'gritty version of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." At times during Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance, you can hear Springfield digging down to those rugged roots. The pop sensibilities are still intact, but from the opening bars of the first track, "Perfect," the guitars are tougher and Springfield's voice huskier than many fans might recall. The cover of the Easybeats classic "I'll Make You Happy" would, on paper, look like a tired choice by an artist who's a song short, but when the ultra hard rock showers down like apocalyptic rain, it's clear that it works. But even that seems tame compared to the nu-metal lurch of "Jesus Saves," which would be appropriate music for grinding bones to make bread. S/D/A/A also shows a seriousness of subject matter and attitudinal toughness that wasn't part of Springfield's heyday persona (to wit: "Jesus saves white trash, baby, like you"). Still, it's not all blood and thunder -- more like lace and whiskey. "Will I?" is a little in the "Jessie's Girl" vein but lacking the hooks, "God Gave You to Everyone" follows suit but the guitars haven't a drop of sweetness to them, "Alien Virus" is a jazz-injected acoustic treat, and "Eden" even dips into reggae -- and more religious references -- to tell its tale of longing. Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance finds Rick Springfield spreading his wings to embrace multiple genres while revisiting the high points of his past. In this respect, it is an extension of his last album of new material, 1999's Karma. Not a disc loaded with radio-ready cuts, this is a solid album from a canny pop/rock vet. Well worth a listen.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Adrian Zupp