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Having established a winning musical combination on Silvertone, Chris Isaak and his band essentially continue it with little variation on his second album, 11 songs of smoky, wounded romance and dark menace given great all-around performances. Isaak's gift for capturing a perfect blend of early rock & roll twang and making it sound perfectly of the now is his greatest strength, and if later albums showed him finding new ways to twist and develop his approach, the relatively straight-up work here is more than fine. "Blue Hotel" is easily the killer track on the album, James Wilsey's spaghetti Western lead guitar and Isaak's yearning, lost singing perfectly matched. There are plenty of other reasons to listen in, though. "You Owe Me Some Kind of Love" is in many ways the precursor to Forever Blue's "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing," only before the breakup, though still charged with a threat of desire and need. Wilsey's concluding guitar solo is especially sharp, and the way Isaak delivers the chorus balances between melancholy and urgency. For all the Roy Orbison comparisons Isaak won, "Cryin'" is in fact an original, but Isaak does tip his hat another direction with an attractive remake of the Yardbirds' "Heart Full of Soul," making it sound very much like an Isaak original instead of a worshipful carbon copy. Erik Jacobsen's production again emphasizes Kenney Dale Johnson's drumming without making it suffer from late-'80s corporate rock disease, while touches like the sax on "Lie to Me" and the buried strings and wordless backing vocals elsewhere adds depth and lushness to the album in just-right amounts. The whole experience is pure doom-haunted passion, elegantly on the run away from -- or towards -- someone. All that and a killer cover photo as well, the iris of Isaak's eye only just in the light.
Performance CreditsChris Isaak Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals,Musician
Pat Craig Musician
Kenney Dale Johnson Drums,Vocals,Musician
Prairie Prince Musician
Rowland Salley Bass Guitar,Musician
Chris Solberg Musician
James Calvin Wilsey Guitar,Musician
John Robinson Musician
Technical CreditsChris Isaak Composer
Graham Gouldman Composer
Erik Jacobsen Producer,Management
Tom Mallon Engineer
Kim Champagne Art Direction
Bruce Weber Cover Photo
Dave Carlson Engineer
Jeri McManus-Heiden Art Direction
Mark E. Plummer Management