Dream Into Action

Howard Jones

Elektra Records, 1985

http://www.howardjones.com

REVIEW BY: Alicia St. Rose

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/18/2001

With an album titled like a best seller off the self-help book list, Howard Jones was for a short time, our spiritual and mental counselor of pop radio. Whether we listened to him or not is another story. But he had things to say, and while some may call his messages hokey, it takes a certain amount of genius to convey the essence of Zen-Bhuddism in a three-minute pop song. And it takes guts and conviction to fill an entire album with positive affirmations and thrust it onto the public at large. I guess Jones's heart was truly in the right place and the mid-eighties was the right time.

Dream Into Action was Jones' second album. Released in 1985, it is bursting with synth buoyancy and eighties optimism. If you found yourself down in the dumps you could always put this disc in the player (or back in the day-album on the turntable). Heck, just looking at the guy on the cover with that sprightly hairdo and non-threatening visage made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first track "Things Can Only Get Better" could at least alleviate a modicum of your pain. And if that wasn't enough the second track "Life In One Day" just might do the trick with the opening lines: "The old man said to me / Said don't always take life so seriously." But wait, there's more! "Specialty" will have you mentally, if not literally, hugging yourself after a dose of this: 'Bout time you realised / You are a specialty / There is no one like you / Spend your life worrying / 'Bout what you could have been / Can't you like being you.

"Hunger For The Flesh" admonishes against clinging to our earthly vessels as if they were the ends to everything when our corporal manifestations are transitory in the great scheme of things. And "Is There A Difference" is based on chapter 20 of the Tao Te Ching. Both songs afford a little dip into Zen-Bhuddism, which is quite a nice pool to splash around in.

The highlight of the album is the beautiful ballad, "No One Is To Blame" with it's crafty couplets conveying the pain of longing: "You can look at the menu but you just can't eat / You can feel the cushions but you can't have a seat".

My personal favorite, which I think could have become an anthem, is "Look Mama" with the chorus: "Look Mama I love you / But you gotta let me live my life." This is a passionate plea we all can probably relate to. Now, how do we get the Mom's to listen? Hmmm…

Overall, I would call this a feel-good album...except for a disturbing track stuck smack dab in the middle. It will have you spewing out that burger and swearing off the KFC. "Assault And Battery" is Jones' new descriptive phrase for the meat and poultry industry. He doesn't mince words either: "Brutal murder (brutal murder) / All hands to the slaughter / Mass torture / All hands to the knife." And there's the unsettling segment with chorus of children singing: "Children's stories with their farmyard favourites / At the table in a different disguise."

The session musicians are a big part of the magic of Dream Into Action. The TKO Horns accentuating the positive and the Afrodiziak singers (consisting of one now famous soloist, Caron Wheeler) belting out for what it's worth. The sound is tight, melodic and joyous. Jones doesn't get much airplay these days and I haven't heard much of him since the decade before last. He's still putting out albums, though, and I'd wager he's still advising us to love ourselves even though the angst ridden nineties would have none of that. Hokey or not, I like Jones's attitude.

Rating: B+

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© 2001 Alicia St. Rose and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.