When I think of the very best that the Australian music industry has to offer, Rick Price and his debut album are always at the top of my list. While it has been close to 25 years since I was first exposed to this exceptional album, I can say with complete honesty that it feels as fresh as the day it was released.
If you’re not overly familiar with Price's work, think John Farnham’s rock style and you will have a fair idea of what to expect. That said, Price is no imitation artist and it astonishes me that he didn’t have longer lasting success.
Thankfully, streaming services allow us to not only revisit our past music interests, but it also allows us to share them. As such, it pleases me that my son adores this album, so much so that he asked if he can get the CD. Unfortunately, Heaven Knows has been out of print for a number of years. Fortunately, The Essential Rick Price does contain the best songs from this album, hence, I will get my son for his upcoming birthday. Until then, Heaven Knows is getting played extensively on TIDAL Hi-Fi in our household.
Disappointingly, Heaven Knows is one album I can't simply pass on to my son, despite once owning the double CD edition that featured some amazing rarities. Unfortunately, that edition is not available for streaming and I stupidly sold the CD after digitising it in the new and "revolutionary" MP3 format. To use the Australian vernacular, I was a bloody idiot!
I can beat myself up for making ill-informed decisions, but a lesson can also be learnt from my mistakes. Buy and forever appreciate physical music as digital delivery options are forever changing and sometimes returning to the music that defined you is more complex than merely going to your own record collection.
Speaking for a moment about The Essential Rick Price, I'm pleased to mention that when I stream it on TIDAL Hi-Fi, the mastering is a significant improvement in soundstage and low-end sonics when compared directly against Heaven Knows. I mention this because I always felt the album lacked power and drive, even on the original CD release. Of course, I would love Sony/BMG music to re-issue Heaven Knows with a new mastering, but I fear the demand is just not there to justify this move, despite the album being awarded double platinum status in Australia.
Anyway, enough of my incessant ramblings let’s take a look at the songs that make up Heaven Knows.
What's Wrong With That Girl? is a sensational opening track with a rock-infused/pop-style that can be heard throughout the entire album. It has an addictive rhythm, beautiful guitar work, and Price's vocal will grab you from the first note.
Not A Day Goes By slows the album down to a rock ballad pace and as much as I adore this song, I have always felt the chorus to be too grating in the sonic highs of the song. That isn't to say the song is bad, just that I would have liked the chorus to be sung in a lower register. No doubt a delicate remastering could solve this problem.
A House Divided has an excellent rock-based overture. It suits the album and Price's style. My son absolutely loves this song, but it hasn’t always been my favourite song on the album. However, as I have matured over the past decades, I have grown quite fond of A House Divided.
Walk Away Renee is a fantastic cover of The Left Banke's original 1966 edition. Covers can be hit or miss, but Price's edition is a remarkable improvement over the original and is, in my opinion, the only version worth listening to.
Heaven Knows is simply magnificent and shows just how exceptionally talented Rick Price is as a vocalist.
Church On Fire is the first track on the album that doesn't immediately excite me. However, it becomes more palatable as the song builds towards the chorus. That said, it is still a B-side. Although, I really can't be disappointed by this as Heaven Knows plays like a greatest hits album with one exceptional recording after another.
Life Without You is an enjoyable song that fits perfectly with the tracking and overall style of the album. It has a country/folk/pop style to it that I appreciate.
Foolin’ Myself has a killer guitar intro but fails to compel me. It actually reminds me, style-wise, of another song I have heard over the years, yet I can't put my finger on which song that could be. Perhaps it is a combination of styles that is causing this temporal confusion. Regardless, it is a solid B-side, I just wouldn't play it outside of the album format.
Forever Me And You is exceptional!
Fragile closes out the album beautifully and certainly encourages me to listen to the album again or stay within Price's catalogue.
Overall, Heaven Knows is one of the greatest albums ever released in Australia. It further validates that Australia has much more to offer international music lovers than AC/DC and Kylie Minogue. While these two artists are exceptional in their own right, they are but a minuscule element of the Australian music scene and thanks to Ian McFarlane’s incredibly extensive Encyclopedia Of Australian Rock And Pop, I can make that claim with absolute assurance.
This review was based on listening to the CD-quality edition of the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi. While I still believe a remastering would be appropriate, it is tonality identical to the mastering I recall from the original CD release.