Albums of the ’80s: Huey Lewis and the News – Sports

In 1978, Huey Lewis & The American Express were formed, and based out of the Bay Area in California. In January 1980, the American Express credit card company complained about the band name. So they changed it to what we now know as Huey Lewis and the News. Later that year, they released their self-titled debut studio album. What, you never heard of it? Well, not too many people have, as the album went largely unnoticed. However, their follow-up album in 1982 – Picture This – was successful, thanks to their breakout hit “Do You Believe In Love”.

In 1983 (yes, 30 years ago!), Huey Lewis and the News released their 3rd album – Sports. This album was what I would like to call a slow burn. It started out as ranking 6th on the U.S. charts. But, as each single was released (and played endlessly on MTV) the album and the band became more and more popular. They would gain worldwide fame, and the album would be certified 7x Platinum. By June 1984, the album would be a number 1 hit. Four singles from the album reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.

Huey Lewis and the News followed-up the album strongly, as they had 2 popular songs from Back to the Future – “The Power of Love”, which was a number 1 hit, and “Back in Time”.

The band’s 4th album, Fore!, was not too shabby, as it sold 3x Platinum. But, their commercial success faded after that. By the ’90s, they weren’t exactly drumming out the hits. But they are still together and still tour.

Now, let’s hop in the Delorian, and go back 30 years to 1983, and experience the classic hit album, Sports.

The Heart of Rock & Roll

This song that leads off the album was the 3rd single released, and it reached #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

This is a pretty good rocker. Most songs that have a rockin’ sax solo in the middle is aces in my book. Plus they name of several cities in the song. This way, they could cheaply get extra loud cheers whenever they mention the city they were touring in that night. And if they were in a city/town that was not mentioned in the song, I’m willing to bet that they added the name in for that night, and really got the crowd excited! Ugh! Not a bad song though, but it was one of the many songs of this album that was played over and over again on MTV and on the radio. Therefore, it didn’t take long to get sick of it.

Heart and Soul

This song was the first single released from the album, and was a #8 hit. And from the “You learn something new every day” department, I just found out that this song was released by 2 different groups prior to Huey Lewis and the News making a hit out of it. The first version was also the title track of a 1981 album by Exile. The second was released by The BusBoys for their 1982 album American Worker (couldn’t find a video for this).

This was the first time I had seen Huey Lewis and the News on MTV.

Bad Is Bad

This was the only song on the first side of the album that did not get released as a single. I didn’t know there was a video shot for this. I used to not like this song, but I like it more now. It is a cool combination of Blues and Doo-Wop.

I Want a New Drug

This was the second single released from the album, and reached up to number 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Dance Club Play chart.
There was controversy surrounding this song. When the similarities between this song and the theme song of the 1984 film Ghostbusters were heard, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagiarism, claiming that Parker had stolen the melody from “I Want a New Drug”.

They ended up settling out of court. But everything got stirred up again in 2001, when Lewis commented on the payment in an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. So Parker sued Lewis for breaching confidentiality. Here’s a pretty cool mashup of the two songs:

Here’s the video that was shown a couple million of times on MTV:

Side 2

Walking on a Thin Line

While most of the big hits were on the first side of the album, I like the songs on the second side much more. This song is one of my favorites on the album. Great way to start Side 2.

Finally Found a Home

This song has the same tempo as “Walking on a Thin Line”, and I love it. Here is a live version:

If This Is It

This is probably my least favorite Huey Lewis song. This was the fourth single released from the album, and it was the third consecutive song to reach #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In general, I’m not a fan of the band’s ballads. I much prefer their rockin’ songs.

You Crack Me Up

Ah, back to the rockin’ stuff. Another one of my favorites from the album.

Honky Tonk Blues

When this album came out, I was not really into Country or Blues, so I didn’t appreciate this song. But, by the time Grunge came around in the ’90s, and ran the music I loved out of town, I ended up getting heavily into Country. So, I love this song now.
This was originally done by the legendary Hank Williams. Here is some old school country with the Hank Williams version.

I think Huey Lewis and the News did a great job with the song. You be the judge yourself.

What do you think of the album? Are you like me, and prefer the lesser known songs from the album, or do you still like the hits?

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2 thoughts on “Albums of the ’80s: Huey Lewis and the News – Sports”

  1. I used to have this album on cassette, and listened to the whole thing quite a bit. I’d forgotten about the Bad Is Bad video until I saw it here. Thanks for the reminder! Loved their version of Honky Tonk Blues, but I still think Heart And Soul is my favorite from this album.

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