Another Page

Christopher Cross

Warner Brothers Records, 1983

http://www.christophercross.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/07/2000

If I had been active in the music industry in 1983, I don't think I would have wanted to trade places with Christopher Cross for anything in the world. Here's a guy who had just come off stellar success with his debut album, winning five Grammys for his work. He was almost constantly on the radio with songs like "Ride Like The Wind" and "Sailing". If this wasn't enough, he won an Academy Award for his contribution to the film Arthur.

Oh, sure, it all sounds great on paper (okay, computer screen... whatever...). But when it came time for Cross to work on his second album, the pressure that had to be on him to deliver surely was intense. Screw the "sophomore slump" I keep talking about; Cross would probably have to serve up Jesus himself as a backing vocalist to live up to people's expectations.

That album, Another Page, was seen as a commercial disappointment, even though it sold (if I remember my numbers correctly) about 3 million copies. Artistically, while this album has some classic songs (and I'm not just talking about the ones that got radio play), it is indeed lacking. I'm stopping short of calling the album disappointing, 'cause it's by no means a failure... but it seemed like Cross ran out of gas.

The two hits off Another Page still sound fresh - one track, "Think Of Laura," actually sounds more in its environment now that you don't hear it played every five minutes or tied to General Hospital. (For the record, the song was written about a deceased friend of Cross's, not for the television soap. It was coincidence that the whole "Luke & Laura" thing was going on at that time.) Now that I've had the chance to hear the words of the song without mentally tieing the song to anything, I've got to admit: the lyrics are some of the most powerful and emotional I've heard in some time. If there's a way to be immortalized by song, this isn't a bad example at all.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The other track, "All Right," sounds like it could have been a leftover from the Christopher Cross sessions, right down to the appearance of Michael McDonald (who also guested on the first album). It's not a bad track, though I'll freely admit it's a little more lightweight than the singles from Christopher Cross. But it's an enjoyable track, so I'm willing to cut it a little slack.

There are some pleasant surprises awaiting you on Another Page. Tracks like "No Time For Talk" (which has subtle ties to "Ride Like The Wind"), "Deal 'Em Again" and "Talking In My Sleep" show that sometimes the brightest nuggets of gold aren't the ones that get the airplay.

There are two distinct problems with Another Page, though. First, I tend to think that Cross relies on guest musicians too much on this album. Granted, sometimes you might not catch their presence unless you're reading the liner notes. But I tend to think that the material would have stood on its own just as well without overreliance on Don Henley, Art Garfunkel, J.D. Souther, Karla Bonoff... and even McDonald. It's almost like he's brought back as a "good luck charm" for this disc. (Admittedly, his contribution to "All Right" I liked.)

Second, the songwriting on this disc, in general, is kind of uninspired and lackluster. "Baby Says No," a track with Beach Boy Carl Wilson, probably should have been the highlight of this disc; instead, it tends to drag and doesn't really allow the listener to get into it. The same could be said for songs like "Nature Of The Game," "Words Of Wisdom" and "What Am I Supposed To Believe". They're okay as background music, but there's really not a lot of substance to them.

I admit I'm kind of walking on eggshells a bit, seeing this is the first output from Cross I've heard that I was disappointed in. But I think that no matter what he had put out, people were going to see the negative in it. (These days, we call this "Hootie And The Blowfish" syndrome.) Even if Cross had met people's expectations, that would have caused listeners to raise the bar even higher for the next outing... and that would have been a damned impossible feat to accomplish. So, in a way, maybe it's good that Cross got this out of his system, and forced people to throw away their expectations and take future releases at face value.

Another Page is by no means a bad album, and still has signs of why Cross became such a star in the early '80s. But it did represent a step backward for him. Whether it was his own personal circumstances or expectations shoving him backward, I don't quite know.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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