We begin our big finish of Seven and the Ragged Tiger with Rhonda’s review of The Seventh Stranger this week.
Musicality/Instrumentation: I will say one thing about the music on this album – it flows extremely well from one song to the next. The same basic elements and sound are found on virtually every track, and this last track is no exception. The song is not especially fast in tempo, and the song tends to have more of a lead-in (intro) than many others on this album, beckoning the listener in for one last round. While the amount of track layering on other songs was bothersome for me – there’s just too much texture to sort out – on this song, I found the layering and mixing to be just the right amount, with the exception from about 4:30 to about 5:00, where it tends to end up sounding a bit more like cacophony. There is a really clean guitar solo that reminds me the tiniest bit of Andy’s work to come much later on the Astronaut album, and the signature call and response between keyboards and guitars is very much present as well. What I don’t hear a lot of on this particular song is bass. I’m sure it’s there, but it’s not the driving rhythm we’re used to hearing along with drums. Those instruments are far more subtle, with a lot more percussion used as background. Overall, the music is interesting without being obtrusive – it’s a good sound for a closing track, letting the listener down easy as opposed to dropping them flat.
Vocals: One thing I really like about this song is that Simon’s vocals are in the lower part of his range, highlighting his versatility. After hearing song after song with soaring, stacked harmonies that range to the upper part of his vocal range, it’s a welcome change to have something a tinge darker and more mellow. It is apparent when I hear songs like this that Simon has had classic training – I can almost hear him dropping his jar as he tackles some of the lower notes to create a fuller sound. If there’s ever a question of his abilities, one does not have to go far to find the answer, that is for sure.
Lyrics: So many of the lyrics on this album seem to follow in the same theme : learning how to deal with fame. This makes sense to me because during this time – Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world, and to the band, it probably very much felt like it all happened overnight. To me, this song seems to express Simon’s desire to find someone to trust in a crowd. Different faces, every single night – who to turn to? It certainly describes a feeling of complete loneliness in a crowd of thousands, which seems to be incredibly daunting. As a fan, I can’t imagine what international fame must have felt like back then – all five went from being “regular guys” to being on the cover of every magazine, on our TV’s, radios…and pursued in every corner on the planet. In some ways, it almost seems as though Simon is commenting on the fact that he is one of the most recognizable people on the planet (at the time), almost no one really knows him, and yet I get the sense from the song that he is searching for that comfort of knowing and being known. Great lyrics.
Overall: Admittedly, I spent much of my youth skipping this one…or at least only half paying attention when the song would finally play on the turntable…fading into silence after it ended. There is a lot right with this song: the lyrics are great, Simon’s vocals are among the best on the album, and the music isn’t at all overpowering. But, I still feel as though some of the best parts of the band: bass, drums – are nearly completely overlooked on this one. Balance is what this entire album left behind, and I think that they never quite find it again until much later in their career.
Cocktail Rating: 3 cocktails!