Back On My Feet Again
Repeat / Relativity Records, 1998
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/25/1998
Any time that life tends to start dragging me down, there are always certain albums in the Pierce Archives that I can take comfort in. I go there, slap it into the turntable/tape deck/CD player, crank up the headphones, and let the music work its magic.
And with a lot of music that has either a negative or a nihilistic message these days, someone thought we needed to be reminded that positive music has been created and can be enjoyed. That's the premise for Back On My Feet Again, a collection of 16 happier tracks. And while there are some questionable inclusions on this collection, it overall does the trick.
Spanning four decades of music, this collection takes the well known (The Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby", Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes's "Up Where We Belong") and mixes it with the not-so-familiar or lost through time (The Five Stairsteps' "Ooh Child", Ollie & Jerry's "Breakin'... There's No Stoppin' Us"). I remember many of these songs well, and many of them still see active duty on my turntable - but even I was surprised to hear some of these songs for the first time in years.
Exhibit "A": Santana's "Winning," a song I grew up with. Had it not been included on this compilation, I not only would never have known who did it (until I eventually picked up that album) but also wouldn't have heard it for a few more years. While this might not be Santana's best work, it still is a great song, and is one that doesn't deserve to be buried in obscurity. The same thing I can't say for Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride," a song I absolutely hated as a teenager. My opinion hasn't changed at all with the passage of well over a decade.
Two remakes on Back On My Feet Again are a tad questionable. I love the song "I Can See Clearly Now,"having grown up with Johnny Nash's original version. So, I have to wonder why the producers chose to go with Jimmy Cliff's version of the song. Cliff does a decent job with it, no question about it, but Nash's version is far superior, and has a more natural groove to it. Likewise, I question why Chantay Savage's slower version of "I Will Survive" is used in place of Gloria Gaynor's more energetic version.
Back On My Feet Again contains many songs that should bring back smiles of memories past. It has been years since I heard Manfred Mann's "Runner" and Pat Benatar's "Invincible," two more songs that have unfortunately been dumped into the annals of rock history. Both songs have held up well with time, and it's great to hear them again. Likewise, I don't ever remember hearing The Four Tops' "Indestructible" or The Five Stairsteps' "Ooh Child," so these were nuggets of gold waiting to be harvested.
I do question whether Boston's "Don't Look Back" is a song of hope and inspiration, but it is a good track nonetheless. Soul II Soul's "Keep On Movin'" is another song that doesn't seem to fit; this one seems to stretch on a little too long than I would have liked it.
Instead of considering Back On My Feet Again as a mood-elevation album, I would rather consider it to be a collection of positive-feedback songs, many of which have been out of the spotlight for some time. While nothing will ever take the place of whatever music you use to break you out of a deep funk, Back On My Feet Again helps to break the mood. At the absolute worst, it's a pleasant collection spanning the whole spectrum of popular rock music - and that's something to smile about right there.
(Caveat: I was informed by the publicist working this album that it would be released today; both CDNow and Music Boulevard have a release date of September 15.)