From the beginning of his career in the late 70s through to his peak in popularity at the turn of the 90s, Chris Rea was a very prolific artist. In a thirteen year stretch, he released eleven albums. In the twenty first century, the very idea that a band or artist could average almost one album per year for so long is almost an alien concept.
Given Chris’s popularity – especially in Germany – it’s strange how these albums have been overlooked with regards to expanded reissue. However, each one – barring 1978’s ‘Whatever Happened To Benny Santini?’, which spent years in an out of print limbo – is still only available in the same CD pressing made in the late 80s.
At an unspecific point in 1979, my dad arrived home from work carrying a long playing record. It turned out to be the new Police album. At this point, ‘Message In a Bottle’ had been all over the radio and I knew I liked this new music. My mum, on the other hand did not have quite the same enthusiasm; she’s a bit put out that this does not have ‘Roxanne’ on it. Presumably, the album – like others – had been purchased at Barnaby’s, a record shop (no longer there) very near my dad’s then place of employment; a giant tin shed in which he worked with dangerous acidic chemicals and little regard for health and safety. That Police album (‘Reggatta De Blanc’) got played a lot. If I think hard, I can still see Dad sitting by his Fidelity stereo system lifting the needle onto the record and playing the title track over and over and I remember thinking how fitting it was that the word emblazoned on the front looked a bit like the word fiddle. That piece of music must have spoken to him: decades later, he would still attract my attention by calling my name to the tune of that track.
The sight of my dad coming home with new music in this way was not entirely uncommon.