Gilbert O'Sullivan

Caricature: The Box (Rhino Handmade)


Gilbert O'Sullivan

Caricature: The Box (Rhino Handmade) If Gilbert O'Sullivan's limp, 1971 hum-along "Alone Again (Naturally)" makes you wonder how he came to qualify for a 3-CD box set, you're not alone. Rhino, as reckless as they are ambitious on these limited edition sets, apparently finds him worthy. It's helpful to examine Britain's musical history in the case of O'Sullivan, lest he be tossed off as McCartneyesque wimp rock. Across the pond, the plundering of American R&B that was the foundation for the British wave of Sixties rock was accompanied by a revival of dance hall songs, England's answer to Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville. "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and "Those Were the Days" were notable, and even Ray Davies mined the genre. Problem is, it's a genre of little significance and no interest to us Yanks. But along came O'Sullivan and lo came the hits, at least in England. In America, the lilt of Sullivan's fey voice and his Chaplinesque appearance caught hold with the annoyingly catchy "Alone Again (Naturally)," but not much else. O'Sullivan plied his craft on his native soil with singles such as 1980's "What's in a Kiss" and 1990's "So What," and it's to his credit that he composed all 73 songs here. The three discs contained include most of his singles and B-sides from 16 (!) albums, plus five unreleased tracks. None of the more than six dozen songs venture beyond toe-tapping, and rockers like "Thunder & Lightning" are the kind of music your grandparents can snap their fingers to and say, "See, we rock."


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Margaret Moser
Did I Know Bruce Springsteen Was Going to Play 2012?
Did I Know Bruce Springsteen Was Going to Play 2012?

March 3, 2017

Adult Audio Coloring Book Sampler
Adult Audio Coloring Book Sampler
A look back at illustrated album covers old and new

July 29, 2016

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle