Helen Reddy - Free and Easy
Apparently Helen Reddy is massive in the US. Apparently she’s often referred to as the “Queen of 70’s pop.” Apparently she’s had three number one hits including her signature hit ” I Am Woman” (which although grammatically appalling, I suspect is far more technically accurate than the utterly cringe-worthy second track on Free and Easy, Raised on Rock - a bold assertion that she soon completely contradicts by torturing the listener for the remainder of the album with what sounds like the sort of thing Andrew Lloyd Webber would leave in the pan after a heavy session on the Guinness). All this is news to me, but this is hardly surprising given that Australian-American singer songwriters from the 70’s are hardly my forte.
I’m not sure what it is that troubles me about Free and Easy so much. It starts well enough with a kind of low slung pop ballad Angie Baby (another number 1 hit), but deteriorates rapidly after the aforementioned Raised on Rock. If I was my parents, which I am evidently not, I would have had that kind of sinking feeling upon buying this album that you get when you buy a record after hearing just one song you like and soon discover that after opening with that track, the rest is actually complete toss… but you sort of have to go around pretending it’s ok for a bit or otherwise you’d look a bit daft for wasting a tenner of your hard earned cash in front of your mates, until one day a couple of years down the line, you finally break down sobbing, beating your fists against the ground declaring that your merciless friends were right all along and that the album you’ve been torturing yourself with for years is in fact complete shit. Yes, that exact feeling.
Or, maybe what troubles me is that the whole “Free and Easy” thing is tinged with a kind of watered down sexiness that I can’t quite reconcile with the girl guide troupe leader staring out at me from the record sleeve. Or the totally benign ballads that sound like Elaine Page committing suicide. Probably the most exciting thing on this album is the key change pan pipes solo on the album title track. Exactly.
Either way, this was another thumbs down this week I’m afraid. What it has inspired though, is a proper daft retro rave beat session from DJ PJ during the outro to this week’s remix, which can only be a good thing.
Check out PJ’s beats: