Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chris Rea - The Road to Hell (Part 2)

Though Chris Rea was a major star in Europe in the 1980's and 1990's, he was more of a cult figure in the U.S.  Stylistically, his music was a modern English (no relation to the band) interpretation of the blues; while Rea and ZZ Top (below) shared some of the same influences, they interpreted the material differently.  Rea's smooth, laid-back feel often reminds me of Dire Straits, but Rea's songs seemed a bit darker compared to Mark Knopfler.

Chris Rea was born in Middlesbrough, England, and started his music career in 1973, when he joined the local band Magdalene (he replaced David Coverdale, who would go on to find success in Deep Purple and Whitesnake).  After kicking around the industry for several years, Rea released his first solo LP in 1978, and gradually built up a following in Europe, before breaking through in the U.K. in the mid-1980's.  Between 1985 - 1998, Rea had 8 top 15 albums in the U.K., and 11 top 40 singles.

"The Road to Hell (Part 2)" (and yes, there is a part 1) was a song with a long instrumental intro, and the label pushed to break the track into two parts.  It is off the 1988 album of the same name, and is generally viewed quite favorably by critics.  The song was conceived while Rea was stuck in traffic on the M25 (the major ring road around London).  "The Road to Hell" reached #10 in the U.K., but did not chart in the U.S., while the album of the same name was a #1 album in the U.K. (#107 in the U.S.)

Rea remains active to the present day, and his albums continue to perform better in the U.K. and Europe compared to the U.S.

Cool trivia fact:  Rea is a U.S. one hit wonder, as only his 1978 single "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" (#12) broke the top 40.


  1. I remember listening to this watching Natutal Born Killers. I thought Leonard Cohen sang this.

    1. I never thought of it that way, but I can totally see it. Thanks for dropping by.