Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Number 19, 1976.]
Stingray: Joe Cocker
Stingray: Joe Cocker
If Jamaica say you will wasn't quite as good as I can Stand a Little Rain it was because at times Cocker presented more polished versions of the successful formulae of the earlier record. Stingray suffers from the same complaint, and although there are changes (no musicians achieve solo status and apart from one sax break there is no brass) the music still falls roughly into Cocker's two main styles: simple haunting melodies and driving rock numbers.
There are no outstanding songs, and possibly because of the very smooth production none of the musicians every really stretch themselves. The usual build-up to an intense repetitive chorus/fade has been restrained in such a way as to rob Cocker of a lot of his power. He is always confidently on top of his music, but never has to strive very hard to get there. In only two tracks (The Jealous Kind' and 'Moon Dew') does he approach top form. The occasional moments of excellence (eg Sam Rivers' soprano sax in 'The Jealous Kind' and Eric Gale's jazz guitar intro. to 'Catfish') barely even highlight the unassuming competency of the rest of the record.
There is female backing on only one track on Side One, and on all but one Side Two. But in spite of this they do not differ much. Richard Tee's organ, good as it is, contributes to this overall similarity by its continual presence. He has the grace, but lacks the flair.
The result is that there are no surprises, and nothing that even comes close to the beauty of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' or the enrgy of 'Put Out the Light'.
Albert Lee plays an uncharacteristically restrained guitar on 'You Came Along', and Clapton is in his typically simple style for 'Worrier'. Dylan's The Man in Me' is pleasant reggae number. Even the playing of jazz-oriented session men Cornell Dupree, Eric Gale and Steve Gadd belies the very middling Cocker-rock style which prevails. It's not just easy listening because the music is there to get into, but unless [unclear: you] make a conscious effort Stingray reamins just that.
Cocker has done much better. This record does little more than evince that he can do so again.