Fresh Horses and Vegemite


Chris Gaines was born in Brisbane, and got his big break in the mid-’80s trio Crush, who looked like Pseudo Echo but sounded like Badfinger, with a frontman who died before his time. Back then, Gaines most resembled Keanu “Dogstar” Reeves, the bass player who never opens his mouth; however, with his 1989 solo debut, Strait Jacket, he became Richard Marx with more relaxed hair. Gaines then followed with the introspective Fornucopia, which, despite the nauseous Red Hot Chili Peppers title, incorporated indulgence that bore a striking similarity to No Fences. Gaines lived in Australia then. How could he know?

Chris Gaines moved to the United States and got in a car crash, which turned him into a disfigured recluse. He then moved in an r&b direction that, remarkably enough, lacked any pretense toward soul. And that’s the way Ambrosia and Randy Vanwarmer and Firefall and Starbuck used to like it, back before this big, burly, bearded rocker named Kenny Rogers hooked up with Lionel Richie and banished that bunch to Branson, Missouri, for all eternity. Gaines revived mid-’70s niceness, though when wielding it the wrong way, he ended up sounding like a dispirited Kenny Loggins imitator.

Chris Gaines, were he a Lite FM staple all along, should have spared us Hootie and the Blowfish, and motivated Phil Collins to get back into prog rock. The Eagles would have had no reason to reunite, and Don Henley could’ve finished his new album by now. Best of all, as Gaines held down the status quo, Garth Brooks would have stuck to what he does best, hosting shows like Saturday Night Live and Muppets Tonight. Instead, the Backstreet Boys now prevail on the adult contemporary chart, inspiring Gaines to record a painful Savage Garden­like adaptation of the Youngbloods’ “Get Together.” After all the pain this guy has experienced, do you really think he wants to?