A View From 3rd Street, by Jude Cole
It is a shame that Jude Cole is such an obscure musician that this album, rather than being the start of a glorious period of success for someone whose skills obviously merited it, it marks the only period of any commercial success that he had for an album that is still underrated even though it had multiple top ten hits. This is an album that appeared during a brief window in which there was a demand for a male pop-rock musician who sang about the darker side of love and relationships with slick and well-produced songs, as the 1990’s would be dominated by adult alternative and grunge and alternative, and this album and artist simply were unable to fit in with that particular crowd. Still, even if this album is not exactly well-known, it is certainly an album that deserves to be, and it is without a question the best-known album that Jude Cole ever made, so if you’re looking for an accessible entry into one of the most fascinating could-have-been stories of pop music in the early 1990’s, this album is a very solid choice, without a bad song to be found.
Indeed, it bears mentioning that this album is full of excellent songs that, altogether, present a somewhat melancholy look at love and relationships but one where the lyrics, music, and production combine to create a gorgeous creation. The album begins with “Hallowed Ground,” which has a driving pop-rock sound as it demonstrates the singer-songwriter’s desire to make home a hallowed ground with a loved one, a rare positive note on a generally downbeat album. After that comes “Baby, It’s Tonight,” a song whose music sounds upbeat and positive even if the lyrical sentiments about seeking a fling with a trusted friend in order to avoid loneliness has some darker implications. Not surprisingly, this song was the biggest hit that Jude Cole would ever have. After this comes “House Full Of Reasons,” a gorgeous and aching song about a troubled relationship marked by a lot of anger and destructiveness that was deserved to be a bigger hit than it was, having not even hit the top 40. “Get Me Through The Night,” is another driving song about striving to avoid loneliness, while “Time For Letting Go,” another top 40 hit that was later covered by Billy Ray Cyrus as a country hit, expresses the melancholy feeling of the end of a relationship. The rest of the album continues in a similar vein, with “Stranger To Myself” exploring the way that bad relationships make us feel estranged from ourselves, “This Time It’s Us,” looking at the end of a relationship in a context of a great many other failed relationship that the singer has seen, “Heart Of Blues” being a bluesy song about the bad way the relationship he is in has made him feel, “Compared To Nothing,” looking at the way that solitude and isolation appear far worse than even an imperfect relationship, and “Prove Me Wrong” being a fierce call to a would-be partner to prove his pessimism and cynicism wrong, a difficult challenge to be sure.
Overall, this album has a strong sense of the problems of love and relationships in early 1990’s America. Quite a few albums I like from around this time have the same kind of vibe (see also Peter Cetera’s “World Falling Down,” which similarly masks downbeat reflections on love and relationships in AOR production), and it is certainly an approach that I can really appreciate. Given the strength of this album and its production by David Tyson (The Arrows, Amanda Marshall, Tina Arena, Alannah Myles, and also Peter Cetera’s World Falling Down album), it is not surprising that even if Jude Cole did not become a household name as an artist, he has always found a successful career as a songwriter and producer, because he brought the songs in this, his second album, in a way that has been recognized by a great many people then or now, if not enough to make this album truly popular. If you like albums that bring solid musical and lyrical touches with a perspective that is down on love, you won’t be down on this album at all.