Chris Rea – Shamrock Diaries (1985)

LPFrontCover1Christopher Anton Rea (born 4 March 1951) is an English rock and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist from Middlesbrough, England. He is of Italian and Irish descent. He is known for his distinctive, husky singing and slide guitar playing, with the Guinness Rockopedia describing him as a “gravel-voiced guitar stalwart”. After learning to play the guitar relatively late, a short burst of local band activity led to his launching a solo career in 1978.

Louder magazine calls Rea “rock’s ultimate survivor”, given his recovery from several bouts of serious illness. He has produced 25 solo albums, with several from his later blues period – such as Blue Guitars (2005) – having multiple discs. British Hit Singles & Albums says that Rea was “one of the most popular UK singer-songwriters of the late 1980s” and “already a major European star by the time he finally cracked the UK Top 10 with the release of the [1989] single “The Road to Hell (Part 2)…” his 18th chart entry.”

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Two of his most successful studio albums, The Road to Hell (1989) and Auberge (1991), topped the UK Albums Chart. His other hit songs include “I Can Hear Your Heartbeat”, “Stainsby Girls”, “Josephine”, “On the Beach”, “Let’s Dance”, “Driving Home for Christmas”, “Working on It”, “Tell Me There’s a Heaven”, “Auberge”, “Looking for the Summer”, “Winter Song”, “Nothing to Fear”, “Julia”, and “If You Were Me”, a duet with Elton John. Rea was nominated three times for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

Rea has never toured the United States, where he is best known for the 1978 single “Fool (If You Think It’s Over),” which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This success earned him a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist in 1978. A decade later, Working On It topped the Mainstream Rock chart. As of 2009, Rea had sold more than 30 million records worldwide.

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Shamrock Diaries is the seventh studio album by British singer-songwriter Chris Rea, released in 1985. This album represents the beginning of a creative and commercial zenith for Rea. Shamrock Diaries was a huge seller in Europe, reaching the top 20 in several countries including Ireland, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and spent forty two weeks in the Dutch charts, peaking at No. 3. The album was also successful in Australia, where it charted in the top 50. “Stainsby Girls” became Rea’s first Top 30 single since 1978’s “Fool If You Think It’s Over”. In 1988, Magnet Records was taken over by Warner Bros Records, who re-released Shamrock Diaries with a significantly remixed version of “Josephine”. The original version was used in the 2019 deluxe re-issue of the album.

Rea wrote the material during a protracted stay in Ireland. In a fresh interview for the sleeve notes in the deluxe version of the album (2019), he recalls how Dublin “reminded me so much of my home town…. Middlesbrough back then was about 65% Irish… And half my family are from Ireland.” The two most popular tracks from the album were written for members of Rea’s family. “Stainsby Girls” was a tribute to his wife, Joan, a former student of the Stainsby Secondary Modern School. “Josephine” was written for his daughter, after whom it is named. Almost a decade later, Rea would also name a song after his youngest daughter, Julia, on the album Espresso Logic (1993).

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Rea told Q magazine that he wrote “Steel River” after returning to Middlesbrough “to see me father after me mother died, and [they] had knocked the whole place down. I’d been gone three years, hard touring in Europe, I literally went to drive somewhere that wasn’t there. It was like a sci-fi movie. That’s when I wrote Steel River. The Middlesbrough I knew, it’s as if there was a war there 10 years ago.” “Chisel Hill” refers to a house Rea bought in the vicinity of Roseberry Topping, which lies just south of Middlesbrough, and has a distinctive half-cone shaped summit. Rea says that the song “can make me cry quite easily… We’d reached the point where we’d bought a house, I had a child, we were happy. We’d kept the wolf from the door and things were okay… [I] wrote that song all in one quick go… whoever wrote that song back then, he must have been a really happy guy. Yeah, that song gets me.” “You’re looking back at yourself”, he said, “remembering what you thought was going to happen, and then what actually happened… I definitely should have stayed in Chisel Hill, without a doubt!”

The track “Stone” was covered by the Law on their self-titled album, with Rea on guitar. In 2000, “Josephine” was sampled by Superfunk for their song “Lucky Star”, with Ron Carroll, although the samples come from another (shorter) version of the song, rather than the original album version.

In 2007 German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell covered the same track for his album “Diamonds Unlocked”. His version features Johnny Gioeli on vocals. (wikipedia)

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After seven albums, Chris Rea was finally beginning to get the hang of what makes a commercial success. He had not changed his style throughout the 1980s, but now it was 1985 and the synth pop sounds and new romantics were both long gone — and in their place were stadium-filling anthemic rock or power ballads. Shamrock Diaries was a mix of soft ballads like “Chisel Hill” and “One Golden Rule” along with saxophone-led uptempo numbers such as the title track and the feel-good song of the summer, “All Summer Long,” which would have made an ideal single had Magnet decided to release it. Shamrock Diaries was written very much with family in mind, particularly considering the two singles released: “Stainsby Girls” was a tribute to his wife, Joan, who had attended Stainsby Secondary Modern School; and “Josephine” was written for his eldest daughter. The opening track, “Steel River,” was rather hard to define, being a soft piano-led ballad until the first chorus kicked in and the song revealed gospel roots, but by the time the second chorus came along it had become a jazz jam. This was followed by “Stainsby Girls,” easily the most like Bruce Springsteen that Rea had ever sounded — and it became his first Top 30 single since “Fool If You Think It’s Over” from the late ’70s. However, Chris Rea saved the best track until the end: the slow-building “Hired Gun,” over eight minutes of brooding menace. (by Sharon Mawer)

And … a real great line-up …

… and listen to the great saxophone player Mel Collins and his solo on “Stainsby Girls” !

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Personnel:
Robert Ahwai (guitar)
Mel Collins (saxophone)
Martin Ditcham (percussion)
Kevin Leach (keyboards)
Dave Mattacks (drums)
Max Middleton (keyboards)
Simon Nicol (guitar)
Eoghan O’Neill (bass)
Adrian Rea (drums)
Chris Rea (vocals, guitar, slie-guitar,  organ, synthesizer)
Annie Whitehead (trombone)
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The Sultanas (background vocals)
Ian Barnett – Donnie Hilstad – Jesse Lortz – Kimberly Morrison)

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Tracklist:
01. Steel River 6.17
02. Stainsby Girls 3.52
03. Chisel Hill 4.03
04. Josephine 3.57
05. One Golden Rule 4.30
06. All Summer Long 4.11
07. Stone 4.27
08. Shamrock Diaries 4.56
08. Love Turns To Lies 4.12
09. Hired Gun 8.01

All songs written by Chris Rea.

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The (now deleted) website:
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Chris Rea – On The Beach (1986)

LPFrontCover1Christopher Anton Rea (born 4 March 1951) is an English rock and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist from Middlesbrough, England. He is of Italian and Irish descent. He is known for his distinctive, husky singing and slide guitar playing, with the Guinness Rockopedia describing him as a “gravel-voiced guitar stalwart”. After learning to play the guitar relatively late, a short burst of local band activity led to his launching a solo career in 1978.

Louder magazine calls Rea “rock’s ultimate survivor”, given his recovery from several bouts of serious illness. He has produced 25 solo albums, with several from his later blues period – such as Blue Guitars (2005) – having multiple discs. British Hit Singles & Albums says that Rea was “one of the most popular UK singer-songwriters of the late 1980s” and “already a major European star by the time he finally cracked the UK Top 10 with the release of the [1989] single “The Road to Hell (Part 2)…” his 18th chart entry.” Two of his most successful studio albums, The Road to Hell (1989) and Auberge (1991), topped the UK Albums Chart.

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His other hit songs include “I Can Hear Your Heartbeat”, “Stainsby Girls”, “Josephine”, “On the Beach”, “Let’s Dance”, “Driving Home for Christmas”, “Working on It”, “Tell Me There’s a Heaven”, “Auberge”, “Looking for the Summer”, “Winter Song”, “Nothing to Fear”, “Julia”, and “If You Were Me”, a duet with Elton John. Rea was nominated three times for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

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Rea has never toured the United States, where he is best known for the 1978 single “Fool (If You Think It’s Over),” which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This success earned him a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist in 1978. A decade later, Working On It topped the Mainstream Rock chart. As of 2009, Rea had sold more than 30 million records worldwide.

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On the Beach is the eighth studio album by British singer-songwriter Chris Rea, released in 1986, and built on the success of the preceding Shamrock Diaries. It reached No. 11 in the UK Albums Chart (and also in Sweden), topped the Dutch charts (where it charted for more than nine months), reached number two in West Germany and No. 4 in New Zealand (where is also spent more than nine months in the charts). It reached the Top 10 in Norway and Czechoslovakia. In 2019, a deluxe remastered version of the album was released.

In an interview for the deluxe edition of the album, Rea said of the song Giverny, written after a visit to Monet’s celebrated home, “I didn’t want to be there. I was only there because she (his wife, Joan) was there… so there’s kinda, a funny twist to it”.

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A retrospective review finds that the album “taps into the same kind of jazzy, introspective pop/soul sound that the likes of John Martyn, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison were flirting with in the same period, helped by an excellent band including Fairport Convention/XTC drummer Dave Mattacks”, adding that Little Blonde Plaits is “a vehicle for [Max] Middleton’s expressive Mini Moog, very redolent of his atmospheric playing on John Martyn’s Glorious Fool”. (wikipedia)

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The perfect album for a day at the beach, Rea’s eighth album takes the listener from the water’s edge of the title song to the sunny fields of the French countryside in “Giverny.” The upbeat reggae feel of “Lucky Day” works particularly well, but it is “On the Beach” that’s the standout track. Rea seems to think so, too, as he’s recorded it numerous times. The version here, though, is the most evocative, a little slower and more meditative than others. The lyrics, as in many of his songs, deal with remembrance and old love. “Little Blonde Plaits,” “Hello Friend,” and “It’s All Gone” are other examples of this theme that appear on the album. While his later release, The Road to Hell, shows the darker side of Rea’s worldview, On the Beach is an excellent introduction to his brighter, more optimistic songwriting. The last three songs are bonus tracks that were not on the original LP release, “Bless Them All” being a smooth, fluid instrumental. (by Rob Caldwell)

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Personnel:
Robert Awhai (guitar)
Martin Ditcham (percussion)
Kevin Leach (keyboards)
Dave Mattacks (drums)
Max Middleton (piano, synthesizer)
Eoghan O’Neill (bass)
Adrian Rea (drums)
Chris Rea (vocals, guitar, slide-guitar, keyboards, bass)

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Tracklist:
01. On The Beach 5.05
02. Little Blonde Plaits 4.20
03. Giverny 5.40
04. Lucky Day 3.57
05. Just Passing Through 5.21
06. It’s All Gone 7.28
07. Hello Friend 4.20
08. Two Roads 3.44
09. Light Of Hope 4.34
10. Auf immer und ewig (*) 4.12
11. Freeway 4.14
12. Bless Them All 2.30
13. Crack That Mould 4.33

All songs written by Chris Rea

(*) Titel track from the film of the same name)

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Chris Rea – The Blue Cafe (1998)

FrontCover1Christopher Anton Rea (born 4 March 1951) is an English rock and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist from Middlesbrough, England. He is of Italian and Irish descent. He is known for his distinctive, husky singing and slide guitar playing, with the Guinness Rockopedia describing him as a “gravel-voiced guitar stalwart”. After learning to play the guitar relatively late, a short burst of local band activity led to his launching a solo career in 1978.

Louder magazine calls Rea “rock’s ultimate survivor”, given his recovery from several bouts of serious illness. He has produced twenty-five solo albums, with several from his later blues period – such as Blue Guitars (2005) – having multiple discs. British Hit Singles & Albums says that Rea was “one of the most popular UK singer-songwriters of the late 1980s” and “already a major European star by the time he finally cracked the UK Top 10 with the release of the [1989] single “The Road to Hell (Part 2)…” his 18th chart entry.” Two of his most successful studio albums, The Road to Hell (1989) and Auberge (1991), topped the UK Albums Chart.

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His other hit songs include “I Can Hear Your Heartbeat”, “Stainsby Girls”, “Josephine”, “On the Beach”, “Let’s Dance”, “Driving Home for Christmas”, “Working on It”, “Tell Me There’s a Heaven”, “Auberge”, “Looking for the Summer”, “Winter Song”, “Nothing to Fear”, “Julia”, and “If You Were Me”, a duet with Elton John. Rea was nominated three times for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

Rea has never toured the United States, where he is best known for the 1978 single “Fool (If You Think It’s Over),” which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This success earned him a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist in 1978. A decade later, Working On It topped the Mainstream Rock chart. As of 2009, Rea had sold more than 30 million records worldwide.

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The Blue Cafe is the fourteenth studio album by British singer-songwriter Chris Rea, released in 1998. The singles released for the album were “The Blue Cafe”, “Thinking of You”, “Sweet Summer Day” and “Square Peg, Round Hole”. There was also a Japanese version with three bonus tracks, “Kyoto Blue”, “Ameno Nakano Kiirono Herumetto” and “On the Beach”. It was Rea’s sixth successive album to reach the UK Top Ten, peaking at No. 10.

The Irish Times noted the “menacing atmosphere” evident on the album, “rooted mostly in Rea’s sandpaper voice. And the twisted blues lines he plays on guitar”. Shadows Of The Big Man is “focused, multifaceted…But best of all is the title song, The Blue Cafe. An album that is bound to be a pure delight for fans of the man.”

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A confident and consistent album, The Blue Cafe combines Rea’s atmospheric songwriting with larger doses of his slide guitar playing than usual. An overlooked talent of his, it underlies this collection of contemporary sounding songs rooted in dance beats and blues (a strange combination, but it works). Two songs from different sides of the spectrum illustrate the album well: “Sweet Summer Day” is one of the best from a master of summer anthems (“On the Beach,” “All Summer Long,” etc.), while “Where Do We Go From Here?” is a bitingly perceptive indictment of the emptiness of consumer culture laid against a cool, smooth backing track. All in all, this is one of Rea’s most introspective albums and a strong addition to his catalog. (by Rob Caldwell)

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It’s back to basics for Rea, following his foray into film-making. And you really can’t get more basic than this album’s opening track, Square Peg, Round Hole, which has a guitar riff and lyric that will thrill at least the less demanding fans of bands like Status Quo. Likewise, Miss Your Kiss. Is Chris kidding us, or what? More focused, multifaceted and better by far is Shadows Of The Big Man with its menacing atmosphere; indeed, even the seemingly straight-ahead love songs such as Since I Found You have a slightly menacing undercurrent, rooted mostly in Rea’s sandpaper voice. And the twisted blues lines he plays on guitar. But best of all is the title song, The Blue Cafe. An album that is bound to be a pure delight for fans of the man. (by Kevin Courtney)

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Personnel:
Martin Ditcham (drums, percussion)
Sylvin Marc (bass)
Max Middleton (keyboards)
Chris Rea (vocals, guitar, slide guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Square Peg, Round Hole 3.58
02. Miss Your Kiss 4.05
03. Shadows Of The Big Man 4.50
04. Where Do We Go From Here? 4.32
05. Since I Found You 4.38
06. Thinking Of You 3.31
07. As Long As I Have Your Love 4.45
08. Anyone Quite Like You 4.49
09. Sweet Summer Day 4.45
10. Stick By You 4.05
11. I’m Still Holding On 4.56
12. The Blue Cafe 4.49

All songs written by Chris Rea

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In 2000, Chris Rea was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and underwent surgery which resulted in the removal of part of his pancreas and gall bladder.

Since having this surgery, Chris has had issues with diabetes and a weaker immune system, requiring over 30 pills and seven injections a day. He has had several operations since then.

Despite the setback, he stayed positive, saying: “It’s not until you become seriously ill and you nearly die and you’re at home for six months, that you suddenly stop, to realize that this isn’t the way I intended it to be in the beginning.

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“Everything that you’ve done falls away and you start wondering why you went through all that rock business stuff.”

Chris Rea had a stroke in 2016, which left him with slurred speech and limited movement in his arms and fingers.

He soon quit smoking to halt further strokes, and thankfully was well enough to record more music and tour.

In September 2017, he released his 24th album, Road Songs for Lovers, and went on tour across Europe.

However, in December, Chris collapsed during a performance at the New Theatre Oxford. He was taken to hospital where his condition improved. (smoothradio.com)

The (now deleted) website:
Website

Chris Rea – Dancing With Strangers (1987)

frontcover1Dancing with Strangers is the ninth studio album by Chris Rea, released in 1987.

It became Rea’s first major success in UK, peaking at #2, behind Michael Jackson’s Bad, and spent 46 weeks in the charts, achieving Platinum accreditation.

It reached the Top 10 in six other countries, including New Zealand where it became a number one album.

“Let’s Dance” was released as the first single and, like the album, became a major hit for Rea in UK, peaking at #12.

In tone with the success of the album, “Let’s Dance” became a major hit in New Zealand as well, peaking at #2. The other singles released from this album were “Loving You Again” (UK #47), “Joys of Christmas” (UK #67) and “Que Sera” (UK #73).(by wikipedia)

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Album no 3 in Chris’ ‘imperial’ phase, and the all-important one before The Road To Hell set the seal on the legend. A splendid album, with something for everyone. Of it’s time, yes, but none the worse for that. ‘Side One’ is just about faultless, with each song a sign of styles to come, combining pop, rock & blues just so (I Can’t Dance to that being a particular favourite).

‘Side Two’ kicks off with the always great Let’s Dance (the slightly superior original version to my mind), and while not quite as strong as the first half, still holds it’s own. The album may be a couple of tracks too long, but it shows an artist on top, confident form, with the best yet to come. (by Jason Brown)

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Personnel:
Robert Ahwai (guitar)
Martin Ditcham (percussion, drums)
Jerry Donahue (guitar)
Kevin Leach (keyboards)
Dave Mattacks (drums)
Max Middleton (keyboards)
Eoghan O’Neill (bass)
Adrian Rea (drums)
Chris Rea (vocals, guitar, keyboards, slide guitar, synthesizer, accordion)
Davy Spillane (guitar, uilleann pipes)

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Tracklist:
01. Joys Of Christmas 5.15
02. I Can’t Dance To That 4.19
03. Windy Town 4.25
04. Gonna Buy A Hat 4.25
05. Curse Of The Traveller 6.26
06. Let’s Dance 4.07
07. Que Sera 5.23
08. Josie’s Tune 2.19
09. Loving You Again 5.40
10. That Girl Of Mine 3.41
11. September Blue 3.09
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12. I Don’t Care Any More 2.10
13. Donahue’s Broken Wheel 3.02
14. Danielle’s Breakfast 4.33

All songs written by Chris Rea

Tracks 12, 13, 14 are bonus tracks not available on the initial LP release.

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