“Well, there’s Art Benton on keyboards and then there’s . . . me,” he answered.
You see, it was just about a year ago that I interviewed Rick about his new Rick Strickland Band when he told me, “We’ll be going into the studio almost immediately after [the band’s debut]. We are excited about putting a band album out. It’s gonna be great.”
So what gives, Rick?
Turns out Rick is so excited about the band’s sound, he decided – along with the group – that because his own studio was set up for a single musician/engineer, they should wait and do it right. “I didn’t want to be overdubbing vocals. I want the band in the studio together, and we’re definitely going to do that, but for right now I have a new solo CD.”
Rick did the drum programming. He played all the bass, lead guitar and rhythm guitar parts. He also sang all the lead and background vocals. And wrote all the tunes.
The multi-talented musician also created the orchestral arrangement and then taught it to Art one part at a time.
The 12-track recording is titled Seven. Why Seven? This is Rick Strickland, remember, and I’ve learned there are surprises around every corner.
“You know, this is my seventh solo album,” I can hear him grinning over the phone. “ My band has seven members … my wife Gail really did figure out these things. My favorite Beach Boy album is Pet Sounds, album number seven. My favorite Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, their seventh. The photo we used for the CD cover … was shot from out on the water and when we looked at the image, there was number seven on the pilings!
“And don’t even get me started on the biblical references.”
I’m happy to report, however, that the disc isn’t limited to seven songs. The 12-track recording has the classic Rick Strickland sound his fans love to love. Seven is a mix of old and new, with the main theme being relationships – getting together, staying together, breaking up, second chances, leaving, longing and love. Track one, “I’ve Got Your Back,” is a funky soul tune that will be the first single released to to deejays and radio stations. By the way, this is also one of Rick’s favorites. Picking up the pace a bit is track two “Fever,” penned back in 1980 and just as much fun today. Up next is “Life Boat,” great for a slow shag or cha cha.
“I’ll Give You More” is a sweet promise as only Rick Strickland can. Track five, “I Wanna Know You,” showcases a classic Strickland melody, but it was a lyrical surprise to me: “I wanna get to know you, before we do the physical thing.” Sweet, old-fashioned concept. I’ll be surprised if this isn’t one of the album’s most popular cuts.
“Why You Wanna Pick On Me” is the kind of tune you blast on the highway and sing along at the top of your voice. It’s a pure toe-tappin’, shoulder-shakin’ romp through a relationship. Fun.
The next track, “Faith,” written in 1988 has special meaning to Rick and his wife. “My wife really had to love me a lot to marry me. I was dead broke and for our first Christmas together, I didn’t have money to get her anything. So I wrote “Faith” and that was my first Christmas gift for her. She likes my eccentricities,” he laughs.
“I Forgive You” is about staying in a relationship when you know better. “I’d rather hear your lies than try and live without you.” You can shag through your tears.
“Forbidden Fruit” is for anyone who fantasizes about stepping out on their sweetie, but resists the temptation. The next track is “Addicted.” Rick’s talent on guitar and his soulful vocals are evident on both of these tunes.
In “Back To Square One,” we get to hear a little of that falsetto voice we’ve come to expect from Rick Strickland. It’s never enough.
“If Our Love Must End” is about taking the high road when you’re afraid the object of your affections is moving on. Okay, I’ll be a grown up, but it’s not what I want.
The band is starting to include some tunes from Seven into their live show. Seven to be exact. Rick said, “I came to rehearsal with a list of songs I wanted the band to learn, and Lesa Hudson said to me, ‘Do you realize how many you’ve included? Seven!’
Seven is due for release in two or three weeks. The seven-piece Rick Strickland Band will be at the Spanish Galleon in North Myrtle Beach for the Kick-off to KHP’s Summer Concert Series on April 16 and then again at HOTO’s in Cherry Grove on April 25. Visit Rick’s website at rickstrickland.org or join the band’s Facebook fan page.
Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention: how many grandchildren does Rick Strickland have? Seven.