A View From 3rd Street

Jude Cole

Reprise Records, 1990


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


There is something to be said for the no-frills approach to pop music. No themes, no weird instruments, no great sweeping political statements; just a scruffy guy with a guitar singing about life, love, heartbreak, and moving on. The Beatles were masters of it; Harry Chapin and Jim Croce were brilliant, Tom Petty's not bad, Bruce Springsteen's entire career has been built on it. The problem is, the genre's rife with mediocrity; it's easy to make a bad three-minute pop album, and hard to make a really my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 good one.

Jude Cole's 1990 debut release, A View From 3rd Street, is a neat example of the latter. Ten songs, forty minutes, one scruffy guy; it's a formula that's worked for thirty years, and on this CD it's done to perfection, catchy and melodic.

You might remember Cole from the two charting singles from A View From 3rd Street, "Baby It's Tonight" and "Time For Letting Go". Both were excellent songs, with complex guitar lines; Cole's vocals are slightly gravelly but pleasant, not terribly distinctive or challenging. What impressed me about the songs didn't come until later, reading the liner notes of the CD; Cole plays all guitars, sings all vocal parts, and plays bass as well on about half the tracks. He also throws in piano on a couple of songs just to completely get himself an overachiever's reputation.

This CD gets the rarest of lauds -- there isn't a bad track on it. Standouts, though, are "House Full Of Reasons"; the haunting bluesy "Stranger To Myself"; the emotional power ballad "This Time It's Us" (hey, raise your hand if you remember when all pop CDs had to have power ballads...*counts*...there's a lot of us old farts in the room, huh); and my personal favorite, "Prove Me Wrong", a direct homage to Beatles-style pop with powerful lyrics ("Show me now a love so deep//Take my tears away from me//Show me there is honesty//Prove me wrong..."). Throughout the CD, Cole shows that he's a decent vocalist and a brilliant guitarist; unlike most people who insist on playing all their own instruments on solo albums, he's got the talent to do it.

Is this a CD that's going to make you shudder with delight at complex imagery and themes? No, but if you want that, go listen to Yes or something. (Boy, I'm just asking for trouble, aren't I?) If art rock is Faulkner, this is, say, Dumas, or Arthur Conan Doyle. You won't impress your friends with it, but you'll have a good time listening, and that's really all you can ask for, isn't it?

Rating: A-

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