British singer and guitarist Chris Rea enjoyed a run of popularity in Europe during the late '80s and early '90s after almost a decade of recording. Rea started out performing with a local group called Magdalene, taking David Coverdale's place; the band won a national talent contest in 1975 as the Beautiful Losers, but still failed to get a record contract. Rea left the band and recorded the album Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? (an allusion to a discarded stage name), which went gold on the strength of the U.S. Top 20 hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)." Rea was not heard from again in the U.S. for some time, concentrating his efforts on his main fan base in Europe. A compilation of tracks from Rea's '80s albums, New Light Through Old Windows, was released in 1988 and sold well in the U.K. and Europe and charted in the U.S. Rea followed it up with the critically acclaimed The Road to Hell, which many regarded as his best album. The Road to Hell and its follow-up, Auberge, went to the top of the U.K. album charts, but did not prove as successful in the U.S., where he has failed to chart with his subsequent releases. He released his most ambitious project in 2005, an 11-album, 130-track box set of all new material inspired by the blues and his own paintings called Blue Guitars. The fun The Return of the Fabulous Hofner Blue Notes appeared in 2008.
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