REVIEW: Tonic – “If You Could Only See” (1997 CD single)

TONIC – “If You Could Only See” (1997 Polygram CD single)

Tonic’s Lemon Parade was not a bad album at all.  Regardless of the strength of its deep cuts, it is now known for one song: “If You Could Only See”.  It put Tonic on the map, and it also put a bullet in their career.  If you’re over a certain age, you remember the powerful and tasteful ballad from when it hit the charts in 1997.  I had the album already.  I bought it when it first came out, after reading a glowing review in the local paper and seeing a used copy pop in at the Record Store.  Finding Jack Joseph Puig’s name in the producer credits got my attention too.

The single for “If You Could Only See” features the well known album version.  Acoustic, but only until the guitars punch in, this is a ballad with crunch and heart.  It’s a true story of an argument that singer Emerson Hart had with his mother, over a woman she did not approve of.  He simply said “If you could only see the way she loves me, maybe you would understand.”  And with that a song was born.  A hit song.

Three live tracks from Amsterdam round out the CD single.  Album opener “Open Up Your Eyes” is not a lightweight live version either, clocking in at over seven minutes.  Guitars drone and cry until they form the song’s main riff.  It’s not an overly heavy live version, just an awesome one where you can hear all the instruments clearly.  It breaks down in the middle, when the band plays at lower volume and gives the guitar space to just jam.  Great tune, and one that deserved more attention.

“Thick” was never one of the album highlights, but the live version is superior.  The vocals aren’t as high pitched, and it’s a more laid back vibe.  Not perfect, but more appealing than the album.  There’s some cool haphazard guitar shenanigans towards the end that are worth checking out.

Shame that “Casual Affair” is the shortest of the live tracks as it kicks the heaviest.  Not as tight or as slamming as the album version, but live versions are what they are.

These are not the greatest live tracks that have ever been put on a single, but certainly a welcome addition to any Tonic collection.  Their use of slide guitars and acoustics instruments separated them slightly from the rest of the competition.  Vintage live by the original lineup, and why not.

3/5 stars

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