Monday, June 09, 2008

Gilbert O'Sullivan...Doesn't Knock Me Out

Poor Gilbert O'Sullivan. His first album seemed to cross perky Paul McCartney vocals with Randy Newman-variety sourly realistic lyrics. Then he had a fluke hit with "Alone Again, Naturally." The single, a macabre alloy in a way, of "Yesterday" and "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" was the feel-sorry hit of the year. Ray O'Sullivan (already resenting the "Gilbert" pun) was given a makeover into a cuddlesome tween idol.
Given the Donny Osmond treatment of fluffy sweatshirts and a cutie-pie coiff, Gilbert was expertly pushed as prettyboy popper (hermit as Herman) and his next single was the coy "Clair" followed by the cloying "Get Down." Already on the critics' critical list as a kind of eccentric, high-pitched McCartney, O'Sullivan lost all credibility, and his career floundered during the inevitable fighting with record label and management.
Finally signed to Epic, he opened his new album for the new label with a brilliantly sarcastic look at A&R men, critics and label execs. "I Love It, But It Doesn't Knock Me Out" was brave and foolhardy. Everyone can relate to relatives dying and relationships failing; but few are morbidly morose because they had only a few hit songs. Still, if you've ever had your creativity questioned, ever been bossed by know-nothings, you'll enjoy this lost gem, one of O'Sullivan's very best.
Gilbert's continued over the decades to make albums with almost the same indifferent appeal as McCartney; albums that have you thinking, "some of it is sort of as good as his better stuff," or... "I love it, but it doesn't knock me out."
It was a tough business then, and it's worse now. Happily, though, Gilbert's gotten most of his rights back and sells his albums on his own website and presumably pockets most of the profits. So visit
Submitted for your download, ironies intact, a song from another age. Today, the line might be revised as "I love it but...why should I have to pay for it." Back then...

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