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Rea, Chris - 1980 Tennis

ARTIST: Rea, Chris
ALBUM: Tennis
LABEL: Magnet
SERIAL: 2473 904
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1986, Magnet (Japan), VDP-1145 * 1988, East West, 2292-42370-2


LINEUP: Chris Rea - vocals, guitar, slide guitar, keyboards, piano, synth * Robert Ahwry, Dave Burton - guitar * Kevin Leach, Max Middleton - keyboards * Pete Wingfield - keyboards, backing vocals * Graham Watson - accordion, keyboards, synth * Geoff Driscoll, Raphael Ravenscroft - saxophone * Lee Thornberg - trumpet * Raoul Gonzales - trombone, bass trombone * Martin Ditcham, Mark Rea - percussion * Mick Hutchinson, Eoghan O'Neill, Bruce Lynch - bass * Norman Nosebait, Dave Mattacks - drums * George Chandler, Stuart Epps, Jimmy Chambers - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tennis * 02 Sweet Kiss * 03 Since I Don't See You Anymore * 04 Dancing Girls * 05 No Work Today * 06 Everytime I See You Smile * 07 For Ever And Ever * 08 Good News * 09 Friends Across The Water * 10 Distant Summers * 11 Only With You * 12 Stick It


My first exposure to the music of Chris Rea was in 1978 and the hit single 'Fool (if you think it's over)' from his debut 'Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?' The song was perfect summer fare and a welcome change from the disco onslaught that was starting to plague the U.S airwaves at the time. With a Grammy nomination for 'Fool..', (losing out to Billy Joel) it appeared Rea had a bright future although his follow-up album 'Deltics' failed to do much aside from minor chart success with the single 'Diamonds' and it seemed at least to the general public Chris Rea had lost his momentum. Perhaps this is why 'Tennis', his third album failed to generate much attention and quickly disappeared. I only remember seeing it once or twice in the local shops after securing my copy and have come across the LP just a handful of times in the years since. Fortunately, 'Tennis' is now available on CD giving everyone a chance to hear this lost classic once again.

The Songs
The album's title track was the first single and it's one of Rea's finest songs with its socio-political lyrics and a hook that draws the listener in over repeated plays. Rea has a great rock voice in the style of Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Night) and Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits in a smokey blues style. 'Dancing Girls' and 'Only with You' are quintessential Chris Rea, again offering a summery feel much like his aforementioned very first single a couple years earlier and both songs should have been big hits in a perfect world. The Dire Straits comparisons crop up again on the two instrumentals 'No Work Today' and 'Friends across the Water', the later with a distinct reggae vibe and with this influence and the dreamy 'Distant Summers' I am reminded of 10cc's masterwork 'Bloody Tourists'. Both albums are like musical bookends, progressive artiness and pure pop song craft blended in a tasty musical cocktail!

In Summary
Rea would find his greatest success in the late 80's and early 90's with 'The Road To Hell' and 'Auberge' albums but for this listener, the early work from this under-appreciated artist stands out as his best. A battle with cancer a few years ago prompted Rea to return to his roots in the blues, but I hold out hope that one day he will come back to pop music where his classy style is sorely needed.

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#1 | sabace on December 25 2007 19:56:50
you're having a laugh, right ?, RIGHT ?
#2 | jeffduran on January 28 2008 03:11:20
NO LAUGHING HERE! This is an absolute classic. 'Dancing Girls' is amazing as is the title track. Check out his 1981 self titled release too.Yes

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