The title indicates that Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance is a sequel to 1984’s Beautiful Feelings, most famous for “Bruce,” a primal scream of identity assertion, raging against the injustice of being confused for a Jersey folkie with a similar name. What made that callous erasure worse was that Rick Springfield not only actually went to ‘Nam (with the proto-INXS Rockhouse), but that he actually fought terrorists! His classified training at Port Charles Hospital helped save that town’s inhabitants from being frozen alive. S/D/A/A is General Hospital as directed by Frederick Wiseman. Without the ‘Nam monologue, unfortunately. (Are they holding the forceps too tightly in Iraq? Is that why little pieces keep falling off?)
Rick can’t shake those demons. This record would send Anna Kavan to an igloo with a canned daiquiri. But he’s been here before. What you call hell, Rick Rambo called home, in earlier forays into paranoia (“Don’t Talk to Strangers”), self-hatred (“What Kind of Fool Am I”), inadequacy (“How Do You Talk to Girls”), and valor beyond the call of heroism beyond the call of self-immolation (covering Sammy Hagar). Now that grunge is buried with Michael Hutchence, the Waborita better watch where the worms are coming from! “Every Night I Wake Up Screaming,” “Your Psychopathic Mother”—remember, this man once played “hide the crucifix” with Linda Blair. And this album sounds like what came out of her mouth—sped up! Working Class Cujo? More like Cerberus!
Linda jilted the crucifix for a prison-shower broom, and of course “moot, glorious” Rick’s never been identified with his other beautiful feelings as much as for jealousy, envy, covetation. You-know-who’s girl appears twice here, once in the words and once in the music, in the form of an eight-second reprise of that muted-chord I-VI progression that’ll never belong to Sweet Jane again. Those were different times, so this time it’s in the now standard Melvins D-E-A-D tuning, and various clues (“God Gave You to Everyone,” “Jesus Saves,” at least two references to “trailer parks”) indicate she might be Amy Lee. Rick was right to be righteously angry—nevermind Bruce; even Bon Jovi don’t make records like this one anymore. There’s still dingo shit in the back of his limo—unlike Hutch, sick sex hasn’t spoiled him yet!