Christopher Cross

Christopher Cross

Warner Brothers Records, 1980

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


A year ago, when I reviewed Christopher Cross's album Walking In Avalon, I raised the question of why this guy had fallen out of public favor. After all, he was still producing the same light pop with powerful hooks that he had become famous for on his 1979 self-titled debut album.

It's been some time since Cross has gotten his turn here, so into the Pierce Memorial Archives for Christopher Cross - and while I can't say I've discovered why he's not a superstar anymore, it's a little clearer to me why he became so popular at that time in music.

Cross's gift as a songwriter and as a musician is simply explained: He knows how to write a good song, and then deliver the material. (Sounds simple, but for each band that figures out how to do it, there are dozens that can't.) There's a reason why songs like "Sailing" have remained in people's memories for 20 years. Without a good musical melody behind it that allowed people to drift away in their own thoughts, you and I probably wouldn't remember the track if it came to us on a '70s compilation album. But that's just it: Cross my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 did write an excellent song, and that's why it has lasted so long.

Listening to this album, a flood of memories came back to me from when I was nine years old. I remember hearing songs like "Ride Like The Wind" become big hits while camped out in front of the radio. I remember how "Sailing" and "Never Be The Same" quickly became favorites over the airwaves - and, thanks to this album, I remembered the fourth single I had forgotten about all this time, "Say You'll Be Mine".

Of the remaining tracks, a few disappoint just because they don't rise to the same levels as the better-known tracks ("Poor Shirley," "Spinning"), while others make me wonder why we didn't hear more of these at the time ("Minstrel Gigolo," "I Really Don't Know Anymore"). With one or two exceptions, Cross constantly was hitting the pop rock target - and had nearly dead aim on the bull's-eye.

And therein lies one explanation for Cross's success. Four words: right place, right time. If you really get into Christopher Cross, you could argue that it was like the Doobie Brothers had they been located in Texas. (Michael McDonald's contributions to this album help a little bit.) Both Cross and the Doobies experienced great success around this time (granted, the Doobies had experienced success for much of the '70s).

I'm not saying that Cross tried to clone the Doobies; I can hear many differences between Christopher Cross and Minute By Minute, for example. And I don't want to discount Cross's talents by any means; I do like this album on its own terms. But I do wonder if the level of success Cross experienced would have been as high had the public's taste in music been a little different at that time.

Gee, I think I've dug myself into a hole here... but the overall message is clear. Christopher Cross is an album that not only justifies the superstardom he all-too-briefly experienced, but is still enjoyable 20 years later. More importantly, it leaves us asking yet again: Why isn't this man still a bigger star than he is now?

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen 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 Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.