Theme: Roads – Chris Rea’s “Road to Hell”

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.

Chris Rea´s
Chris Rea’s “Road To Hell”. This is a rather bad bit of photo realism. Image: pixgood.com

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.

This is the kind of crap car art I had in mind recently.
This is the kind of crap car art I had in mind recently.

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.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

3 thoughts on “Theme: Roads – Chris Rea’s “Road to Hell””

  1. I’m not sure I’d know a Chris Rea song if I heard one, but I remember having some respect for Chris Rea because of his Ferrari 156 (Sharknose) F1 car re-creation. However, it seems that the re-creation was more superficial than I’d first thought. Although the 156 is one of the best looking ever F1 cars, I can’t really see the sense in making one unless it also faithfully reproduces all the engineering, but if it gave Mr Rea pleasure, then I’m probably just being a miserable old pedant.

    I should qualify my opening sentence. My ignorance of Chris Rea’s work is not based on any assumed critical high ground on my part and I would not be showing editorial solidarity if I didn’t make some suitable admissions myself. In the latter part of the 70s, among punk albums and early industrial music, I also had a copy of Abba’s ‘Arrival’ album – the one with a cover of them sitting in a helicopter. This was long before the ironic acceptance of the Swedes as being naffly hip, and discovery of it might have made me a pariah among my friends. I also have an unhealthy fascination with watching the uber-kitsch shows of the Maestricht Maestro, Andre Rieu on Sky Arts.

    In my youth I assumed that cool musicians didn’t do cars then, bit by bit, I found that loads of them did – they just kept quiet about it because ownership of a Maserati Ghibli didn’t quite key in with the counter-cultural message of their lyrics.

  2. I was once stuck on an interminable coach ride with an 8 track of Glenn Campbell’s Greatest Hits playing hour after hour and a lovesick work colleague once played a ‘Big’ Jim Reeves album to us all for a whole day. These traumas have made me somewhat allergic to mainstream Country music.

  3. Does anyone here recall the film Chris Rea made, called La Passione. It told the story of his younger self – a boy with a Ferrari fixation. The 156 was re-created for this I believe. I once heard a number from the soundtrack, called I believe, ‘Shirley, do you own a Ferrari’? Vocal duties provided by the Tiger Bay Belter herself. I don’t think there are words to describe just how toe-curlingly awful this song is. I fervently hope I am never subjected to it again.

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