Chris Rainbow

Looking Over My Shoulder

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After the commercial failure of the excellent Home of the Brave, Chris Rainbow was brought back down to earth with something of a bump by Polydor. Out went the exotic recording locations and top American sessionmen but, more critically, out too went the innovative production team of Malcolm Cecil and Bob Margouleff, who had been responsible for giving HOTB much of its spectral beauty. Perhaps the setback affected Rainbow's confidence, too, for much of Looking Over My Shoulder finds him settling back into the cosy easy listening rut of his earliest singles. No one could deny that many of the songs here are well crafted and expertly decked out with Rainbow's trademark harmonies. But for the most part, the album leaves behind little more than a vapor trail. The only trace of the ambition that characterized parts of HOTB is the epic Brian Wilson tribute, "Dear Brian," whose six minutes manage to reference many of Wilson's favorite chord changes while surfing through moods of wistful regret and carefree abandon. In technical terms alone, it's quite an achievement -- and it certainly eclipsed anything the man himself had come up with in the last five years. But -- a little like the music of Jeffrey Foskett 20 years later -- the track is so in thrall to Wilson as to preclude any chance of Rainbow imposing his own identity on the material. And you can't help thinking that the input of Cecil and Margouleff might have elevated a track like "Dear Brian" to another plane entirely.