ASHFORD & SIMPSON are quite simply one of the best song writing duos the world has ever known. Being former Motown hit writers and having written a string of hits for greats like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, its little wonder that they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2002. 1982’s STREET OPERA was the first album to be recorded by ASHFORD & SIMPSON on Capitol after nine years with Warner Records and is considered by many fans to be their best offering from the 80s. Written and produced by ASHFORD & SIMPSON, the album gained a top 50 Pop chart position reaching #45 and a top ten R&B spot getting all the way to #5 and served as a warm up to the massive success they later enjoyed with SOLID? in 1984.
The English veteran’s album tally reaches 20 with this release, and appropriately it’s one of his finest, an exquisitely played distillation of standards from both sides of the Atlantic, with a brace of originals for ballast. Well-worn favourites like Rufford Park Poachers and Blues Run the Game are presented in polished form, with Simpson’s virtuoso guitar and banjo tailored and layered by producer Andy Bell, plus classy guest accompaniments. Highlights include a cavernous version of Emily Portman’s Bones and Feathers, while Maps is a glance back at a 1950s childhood and Ridgeway evokes England’s ancient past. A master musician on top of his game.
The largely unacknowledged open secret lying at the heart of Rick Springfield's career is how, at his core, he's a serious artist. His gift for power pop and his spell as a television actor obscured this essential fact, but on the many albums he's made since his popular peak during the early '80s, he regularly returns to sober subjects, which means most of his fans may not be surprised that he spends the bulk of his 2018 album The Snake King exploring depression, faith, political confusion, and other weighty ideas. Even so, he hits these subjects hard throughout The Snake King, his lyrical explicitness finding a match in a shift his music: He's moved from arena rock toward heavy blues and folk-rock anthems straight from Bob Dylan in 1965. Given that he's a fine guitarist and craftsman, this isn't quite as startling in sound as it is on paper.