''Working Class Dog'' is a good album, really! -- Why the Rick Springfield reissue is worth buying

By Michael Endelman
August 11, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Working Class Dog

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”Working Class Dog” is a good album, really!

Given his pretty-boy looks and soap-opera résumé, it’s easy to see why Rick Springfield has become an I Love the 80s punchline. But with this reissue of his breakthrough album, it’s worth reevaluating his status in the pop pantheon. Despite what you think, the entire album is a relentlessly catchy power-pop classic. What’s more, below the chug-chugging grooves and chipper melodies, Working Class Dog is not exactly a fun listen. Filled with tortured sexual anxiety and romantic angst, the disc is an Aussie preppie’s take on Elvis Costello’s broken-heart masterpiece My Aim Is True. Just check out the lyrics: ”Jessie’s Girl” is about pining for a buddy’s hot girlfriend; ”Carry Me Away” is the diary entry of a painfully desperate ”total wreck” who’s ”afraid of love”; and ”I’ve Done Everything for You” is a sneering and cruel kiss-off (written by Sammy Hagar). Despite its fluffy reggae groove, ”Everybody’s Girl” is the darkest of them all, a truly mean-spirited rant about a ”dirty little girl” who treated him like a piece of meat. Fountains of Wayne fans will dig this disc, but it’s the psychologists who will be truly enthralled.

Working Class Dog

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