by Kevin Burton
Here’s great news about even more new Gerry Rafferty music.
Rafferty’s daughter Martha did an interview Aug. 31 on BBC Scotland. Twice she told host Roddy Hart that there was other unfinished music she hoped would come out “later.”
The Scottish singer/songwriter was working on several new songs just before his Jan. 2011 death. Martha began working to finish those songs when the Covid lockdown went into effect. This month she released “Rest In Blue,” which has been greeted with good reviews in the European press.
In the interview Martha answered the question I hadn’t dared to ask: Is there any more new Rafferty where “Rest In Blue” came from?
Answer, yes. Awesome!
It sounded like the next set could lean heavily toward traditional Scottish tunes. Whatever it is will be welcomed, even if much of it doesn’t fit the top 40 style I got used to in the 70s.
The same day “Rest In Blue” came out, the Swedish supergroup ABBA released two new songs, after nearly four decades away from the public eye.
“I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” are part of a ten-song set called “Voyage.” The other songs will be released May 11 of next year, according to www.abbavoyage.com.
The group is planning a “virtual concert residency in London,” according to www.ultimateclassicrock.com. That is to feature “ABBA-tars” of the band members’ younger selves singing their old and new songs.
I am not feeling the first two new ABBA songs though.
It’s not that I have anything bad to say about either of them. They just feel like showtunes without a show. There is probably a context that could save them for me. As is, they are not songs I would reach for often.
Whereas Rafferty is among my top favorites, with the Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel and Steely Dan, ABBA comes in somewhere down the line.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like ABBA a lot and I am eager to hear the other eight new songs.
I could see how someone who is a super big ABBA fan would be thrilled with the new tunes.
Both are good musically but neither has that hook that stops you in your tracks.
“Don’t Shut Me Down,” come closer to that AM radio formula that was in play when I first heard ABBA. The song comes in just under four minutes. The story leaves me cold though.
A woman who has broken up a marriage that produced children saunters back to the scene of the crime, asking for another chance without any particular remorse.
“I’m not the one you knew,” she sings. That’s as tired a line in music as it is in life.
If I’m the aggrieved husband I’m saying I moved on from this thing a while ago.
“Don’t shut me down? You’re the one who shut us down a long time ago.”
The music and arrangement for “I Still Have Faith In You,” have more elements from the old ABBA. You can tell they haven’t lost their musical chops.
But I’ll pass on this one while keeping my place in line to hear the rest of “Voyage.”
Another of my 70s favorites, Pablo Cruise, released the single “Breathe.” Late last year. I mention it as an example of how my reaction to material has changed over the years. Maybe yours has too?
“Breathe” is a song I would have lapped up uncritically before. It’s a carefully crafted musical morsel that could blend into whatever is going on around it.
So I like it but I’m not wild about it the way I could have been in the 70s.
“In a world that’s going crazy, I say maybe we take a time out and break away from all the madness, the sadness someway somehow,” the band sings. “And all you have to do is breathe.”
This is a virus-era song for sure, although Breathe is a curious title at a time when breathing at the wrong time in the wrong place could lead to a horrible death.
I am down with their admonition to “cherish every heartbeat.” But I can’t go along with them when they say “Don’t worry about tomorrow live for today.”
Here’s a shoutout for lead singer David Jenkins, who had one of the most under-rated music performances of the 70s on “Love Will Find A Way.”
As with ABBA I am eager to hear what comes next from Pablo Cruise. And to Martha Rafferty, good health and God speed!