Everyone has a skeleton of some form in their cupboard. Among the bones in my ossuary is the fact I sought, bought and listened to Chris Rea’s Road to Hell.
The album is from 1989 and does not fit in with the other material I listened to at the time which included the Fatima Mansions first EP “Against Nature”, The The (“Mind Bomb” and “Infected”) and various random bits of 20th century classical music, as I recall. Plus the Housemartins. I still see the Beautiful South as an inauthentic replacement for the Housemartins. Most of what I listened to then was left-field, lefty and satirical bordering on the enraged. Chris Rea´s soft rock was like a blob of custard in a sea of chili and ground glass. Put another way, Rea´s music is Mantovani and James Last in comparison to the rather grating, noisy and depressive music I otherwise favoured at the time.
What might have attracted me to Chris Rea´s record related to the dystopian vision it seemed to present. I think it presented a dystopian vision of a ruined future but I am not about to review it on You Tube to check. I assumed at the time Chris Rea shared my environmental concerns but quite possibly his road to hell is the same as Friedrich Hayek´s road to serfdom and Rea has never voted left in his life. Reports of his conservatism have been denied but Rea is eurosceptic. Maybe that was what he considered the road to hell. Who can say. I won´t listen to it again, ever.
The album itself features some decidedly easy-to-listen-to mainstream songs. The one entitled “Texas” has a life of its own in the US where it is played at American football games. I don´t suppose it has been misunderstood like Bruce´s Born in the USA, which is a bad thing. I don´t remember that song at all.
Quite a lot of time has passed now and all that Road to Hell reminds me of is a rather alcoholic student trip to Donegal where I commandeered the tour bus´s cassette deck so as to share my short-lived musical passion for soft rock-hyphen-blues. Chris Rea´s next record bore the name “Auberge” and features a Caterham Super 7 on the front. Looking back I completely mistook the meaning of “Road to Hell” entirely.