Chris de Burgh’s second album has him finding consistent melody, making this a definite improvement over his debut of the same year.
With a habit that was to become quite usual for him, the lyrical content is a curious mixture. The opening “Spanish Train” tells the tale of God and Satan battling for the souls of the dead, with Satan appearing to be the stronger and ultimate victor. Indeed, the song was seen as blasphemous in South Africa, and (briefly) banned there.
The notorious favourite “Patricia the Stripper” is deliberately raunchy in its ragtime style, and has remained one of de Burgh's most popular tunes. I can appreciate it, but don't love it.
However, the following song is de Burgh’s first great musical moment, the lovely “A Spaceman Came Travelling”. The words, which centre on the birth of Jesus Christ, suggest that the angel who came to tell of Jesus' birth came from another planet: A spaceman came travelling on his ship from afar - ‘twas light years of time since his mission did start. And over a village he halted his craft, and it hung in the sky like a star, just like a star …
It's haunting, uplifting, and utterly beautiful. On closer look, the finishing “Just Another Poor Boy” is clearly about Jesus and His eventual death, but centres on Mary (which one?) nursing his tired and hungry self at nights.
Between these pieces are more straightforward stories of love and war, which de Burgh was to continue with throughout his career.
One never knows what this talented performer is going to sing about next – from subtly disguised sleaze, to gentle and tender love, to historical dramas, to his peculiar religious beliefs. Such a Jeckyl/Hyde nature can leave an occasionally sour aftertaste, but there are few more interesting lyricists in popular music, and here, the music that accompanies those lyrics has much to recommend it. Rated:
by Reviewer: The Doctor