The One after the Big One: Christopher Cross, ANOTHER PAGE

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
The One after the Big One: Christopher Cross, ANOTHER PAGE

Radio in 1980 was a hangover from the ‘70s, with artists like Olivia Newton-John, Captain and Tennille and Neil Diamond continuing their chart-topping ways, and new acts like Air Supply scoring hit records with a familiar brand of soft rock. Into this fray stepped a pudgy Texan singer/songwriter with a penchant for laid-back songs and pink flamingoes. Christopher Cross’ self-titled debut sent four of its songs into the Top Forty (including the Number One hit “Sailing” and the iconic “Ride like the Wind”) and won five Grammys, establishing him as a potential hit-maker for the new decade.

What does one do for a follow-up? If you’re Cross, you spend a couple years making an album that sounds just like your first and hope listeners come along for the ride again. Released in 1983, ANOTHER PAGE is a piece of pure MOR product, complete with squeaky-clean production, celebrity cameos and half of Toto. It contains a brace of listenable highlights, but in the end falls short of fully recapturing the mojo that made Cross’ debut so special.

“All Right,” Side Two’s kickoff track, is the perfect first single—a peppy up-tempo call for redemption with Michael McDonald reprising his role as the song’s soulful echo machine (he did the same for “Ride like the Wind” on CHRISTOPHER CROSS) and Steve Lukather providing a tasty guitar hook in the verses. McDonald also pops up on “No Time for Talk,” a quivering pop song about lost love that seems out of place as an album opener.

“What Am I Supposed to Believe” and “Talking in My Sleep” are two of the record’s best tracks, but also two of the most frustrating. The former features a lovely second lead vocal from Karla Bonoff, but she and Cross are singing rather bland lyrics (“Some like it hot / Some like it cold / I like it best when it’s untold”). Art Garfunkel lifts his voice in harmony on “Talking in My Sleep,” but it’s buried deep in the mix, even in the solo section, where it’s supposed to be a featured element.

And then there’s “Think of Laura,” which became the last Top Ten hit of Cross’ career, a year after ANOTHER PAGE was released, when it was featured on the soap opera GENERAL HOSPITAL. In spite of its heavy air of melancholy, the song can still prove affecting, particularly if one subconsciously substitutes the name of a departed loved one for the one in the title.

ANOTHER PAGE stands as something of a carbon copy of Cross’ big debut—all the familiar elements are present, if a little smudged. Fans of that first album who might have forgotten that Cross kept recording should find a copy and give it another spin.