Personnel: Chris Isaak (vocals, guitar); Jimmy Pugh (Hammond B-3 organ); Rowland Salley (bass, vocals); Kenney Dale Johnson (drums, vocals); Gregg Arreguin, Frank Martin, Jason Morgan, David Grissom, Bruce Kaphan.
All songs written by Chris Isaak.
FOREVER BLUE was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. "Somebody's Crying" was nominated for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
What most people remember about Chris Isaak's infamous video for the 1989 single "Wicked Game" is that he gets the beautiful woman. That's because most people weren't listening. Chris Isaak's entire oeuvre is about losing beautiful women, and he has lost them with a heart-rending relentlessness that makes Roy Orbison seem like a romantic success in comparison.
The remarkable FOREVER BLUE, his fifth album, was written after a personal event that Isaak says "wasn't actually like a break up. It was like an explosion." For someone who seems to almost cultivate romantic depression, that must have been nothing short of inspirational, and on FOREVER BLUE he turns the resulting emotions (sadness, bitterness, loneliness) into a sustained thesis on the wicked game of love. The growling, swamp-blues opener "Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing" portrays true love as a knife, a thing that hurts more and more the deeper it goes. It begins with the question "You ever love someone so much you thought your little heart was gonna break in two?"
Isaak obviously has, and he seems to relish the inevitable hurt, as if the pain fuels his engine. With reverb-drenched guitars and trembling organs setting a plaintive mood that you might call high lonesome rockabilly, Isaak sings about it in low, sexy whispers and high, wailing cries, sometimes within the same line. "No reason left for living," he sighs in the young-Elvis-like title-ballad, and then he remembers one--"new tears to cry." In the disarmingly peppy "I Believe," he professes his belief in "lovers walking side by side" and "a beautiful day." But, of course, there's a punchline: "not for me/And not for you." That's because you walked into his world, and he's going to pull you under, too.
Q (6/95, p.123) - 3 Stars - Good - "...sticks to the tried and tested loveless formula as though doomed to be forever haunted by the ghosts of Roy Orbison and rock'n'roll past....No surprises, but no disappointment either."
Melody Maker (6/17/95, p.36) - "...What's different about FOREVER BLUE is that the arch, semi-ironic, coffee-table cool of, say, `Dancing' or `Wicked Game' has been abandoned for wracked, self-abasing misery, and sounds the better for it..."
Musician (7/95, p.109) - "...It's not just that his stylistic range has increased...but that he's added to the music's dynamic and emotional range. It's one thing to leap into falsetto, Roy Orbison-style...something else again to move from whispered hope to full-throated faith as easily as he does..."
NME (Magazine) (6/3/95, p.48) - 7 (out of 10) - "...when Isaak transcends his influences...it's impossible not to be seduced by that crushed velvet, Elvis Orbison voice. The hushed title track creeps into smoochy Chet Baker territory...like a timeless jazz-club standard..."