Richard Marx

Richard Marx

Manhattan Records, 1987

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


What is the biggest problem I've heard in debut albums in my twelve years of reviewing music? Simple: lack of direction. Artists might have the heart and the knowledge of their instruments, but they often find themselves jumping from style to style in an effort to cover all bases - or maybe they just don't know which vein of music they'd like to be in.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Case in point: Richard Marx, the pop baladeer who has written many beautiful love songs over his career. (True story: "Now And Forever" was the second song my wife and I slow-danced to at our wedding in 1995.) But on his self-titled debut release from 1987, Marx's jumping from style to style becomes more of a distraction than a benefit, and it eventually hurts the album.

Marx does demonstrate he's comfortable singing a ballad or an all-out rocker (at least, as far out there as an AOR artist can get doing rock). But when you constantly hear Marx jumping from style to style as songs fade in and out, you find yourself wanting Marx to make up his mind which way he wants to go. Could I have seen an album filled with songs like "Don't Mean Nothing"? Absolutely... just as much as I could have seen an album comprised of songs like "Endless Summer Nights" and "Hold On To The Nights".

The only time that Marx really stumbles is when he tries to take the middle of the road with his music; songs like "Remember Manhattan" hit the wall pretty hard. For that matter, the whole second half of Richard Marx is pretty forgettable.

In the end, Marx shows his greatest strengths as a balladeer than as a rocker. Sure, you could call songs like "Endless Summer Nights" sappy-sweet, but Marx's voice is much better suited for these types of numbers. And "Hold On To The Nights" might not be his best ballad, but it does demonstrate Marx's strengths singing ballads, as well as the basic direction he'd take his career.

If you're not listening closely (or you're not reading the liner notes), chances are you'll miss the guest vocal appearances from ex-Tubes leader Fee Waybill and the guitar work of Joe Walsh.

Richard Marx contains some songs that demonstrated the potential star power that Marx had - and could have achieved that much quicker had he not tried to cover all the musical bases on this album.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 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 Manhattan Records, and is used for informational purposes only.