Following on the heels of the hugely successful Born in the U.S.A. Clerence Clemons suddenly became one of the hottest sax players in the pop music scene of this era. Following that he played on Aretha's Who's Zoomin Who and during this time also became invoved with triple threat producer/musician/recording artist Narada Michael Walden and embraced the spiritual teachings of Sri Chimnoy just as Narada himself had himself recristened "Mokshagun" Clerence Clemons in a similar fasion as "Devadip" Carlos Santana had. That meant this album featured lyrics with a lot of spiritual,often lofty overtones you wouldn't tend to find on a Bruce Springsteen album.. And by putting together his dream team band the Red Star Rockers including old E Street buddy and fusion keyboard wizard David Sancious,Booker T Jones on organ was well as a three ring circus of bass players from Narada's own Randy Jackson (yes Idol fans,that one),Maurice Starr and future Living Color member Doug Wimbish. So they stage was set-could Clerence do it?
Creatively he did,on all cyliders. Even though it's likely only loyal Springsteen/E Street Band fans were the only people who purchased this album it's filled with some strong grooves and a deep,growling voice from Clerence that is not unlike...well Huey Lewis I suppose. "Your A Friend Of Mine","Temptation" and the exotically grooving instrumental "Liberation Fire" are all standouts on the uptempo end. They have have certain mid 80's production elements for sure. Even so they all stand the test of time extremely well because the lyrics,which express the joys of one individuals personel and spiritual liberation bely any possible shallowness in that area that could've occured. Because he's always so intent on imitating Jr.Walker,Clemons' sax sound does occasionally fall into certain easy clishes. But that strong personality,especially on the musical end wins out every time. "Kissin On U" brings some Minneapolis style groove into it with a bit more fullness where "It's Alright With Me Girl" and "Christina",with their poppier aspects are the only songs with even an inkling of The Boss in them. And it isn't much really-it isn't much.
Considering that this album could've easily been just an abrupt cash-in job (which it might just have been had he not already put out Rescue two years earlier) this album redeemed itself not only by the musicianly nature of it's sound,production and fine songwriting but also in the fact that he chose lyrics that would speak to people in a more direct than selling them on a dance,a song or even a mere hook. Especially in an era like this when so many people were crying sellout albums such as this proved you could make music that was commercially viable for the era that still had integrity and meaningful lyrical subtext. Now that Clarence has left us I wonder if this big sounding 80's funk/soul album will ever earn the credit that's very much do it. The days and years ahead will tell that I suppose. Until then,for those who have this CD listen,enjoy and remember this artist for what he did do.