Singer/songwriter Chris Rea, who hails from Britain, turns in some impressively slick performances on his debut LP, Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?. Already, the pop/rock package has given birth to one smash single, the Boz Scaggs-styled “Fool (If You Think It’s Over).” More gold may be on the way, thanks to Rea’s rich vocals and facility for pop hooks, not to mention the efforts of producer Gus Dudgeon, whose credits include Elton John.
Though consistent quality characterizes the album, it remains to be seen whether the artist can do as well with the FM/LP audience as with the AM/45 one. Words seem to be chosen primarily for their sonic value here, which is a polite way of noting that Rea may not have all that much to say. Musically, moreover, his entries often prove to be as lightweight as they are listenable. In other words, his work is strong enough to play on in my head when the record ends, but it’s not provocative enough to play often.