Category Archives: Album Listening Party

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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Albums of the ’80s: Billy Joel – An Innocent Man

index Now let’s jump ahead to 1983 to rediscover Billy Joel’s classic album – An -Innocent Man.
For long-time readers, this article may look familiar. Other than a few edits here, this article was originally posted on October 28, 2010 (wow, time flies!) as part of the old ‘Album Listening Party’ series. But, I believe this will be new to many people. And for my Awesome long-time readers, can you really get enough of Billy Joel? I think not!

And who could go wrong listening to An Innocent Man? Out of the 10 songs on the album, 7 were released as singles. Three of them were top 10 hits on Billboard – “Tell Her About It” (#1), “Uptown Girl” (#3), and “An Innocent Man” (#10). The other hits were “The Longest Time” (#14), “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” (#27), “Keeping the Faith” (#18) and “This Night” (#78 in the U.K).

The album is a tribute to the music of Billy Joel’s childhood, and pays homage to several styles of music. The hits from this album were in heavy rotation on MTV.

Easy Money

This song did not play on the radio, but it is my favorite song of the album, and probably one of my favorite Billy Joel songs. It was featured in the Rodney Dangerfield movie of the same name. This song pays homage to James Brown’s style. You can really hear it with the screams and grunts. It is very energetic.

An Innocent Man

This song peaked at #10 on the Billboard charts, and actually reached #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart. This musical style is an homage to Ben E. King and The Drifters. Joel was quoted in a 1997 interview describing a high note he sang during the song: “I had a suspicion that was going to be the last time I was going to be able to hit those notes, so why not go out in a blaze of glory? That was the end of Billy’s high note.” I really like this song, and did not get sick of it like I did with a couple of other songs off this album.
Here is Billy Joel performing the song live at Wembley at the height of the Innocent Man era. And it is not lost on me that he already had somebody hitting the high notes for him. Still a great song:

The Longest Time

This would be my second favorite song from the album. This is obviously a doo-wop song. When the song was on, I would sing the low bass part, and make my brother and sister crack up. Billy Joel actually sings the lead vocals and all backing vocals. The song reached #14 on the Billboard charts, and like “An Innocent Man”, this song reached #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart.

This Night

This song was released as a single only in the UK and Japan, reached #78 on the UK Singles Chart chart and #88 on the Japanese Oricon Singles Chart. So you may not have heard this song in the U.S. unless you listened to the album. Like “The Longest Time”, it is also a doo-wop style song. Joel has said in interviews that “This Night” was written about his brief relationship with supermodel Elle Macpherson, whom he dated just prior to second wife Christie Brinkley. And for you Classical music afficionados, the chorus of this song uses the second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata. Beethoven is credited as one of the song’s writers on the sleeve of the album as “L.V. Beethoven”.

Tell Her About It

This was the first single released off of the album. This song is an homage to the Motown Sound. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for one week on September 24, 1983, replacing “Maniac” by Michael Sembello. At the end of the song in the video, comedian (and Easy Money star) Rodney Dangerfield is there preparing to go on “stage” thanking Joel for warming up the crowd.
This was a great single to lead off being released from the album. This is one of the songs I got sick of after a while. I’m liking it again now that time has passed.

Uptown Girl

This song was an homage to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It reached #3 on the Billboard charts in the US,nd #1 in the UK, staying at that position for 5 weeks. It was also the second biggest selling single of 1983 in the United Kingdom behind only Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”, which Joel had knocked off the number one position on November 1, 1983. The song was originally written about his relationship with his girlfriend, supermodel Elle Macpherson, but ended up becoming about his soon-wife Christie Brinkley. And as anybody who was around in 1983 can tell you, Christie Brinkley also starred in the video. Joel and Brinkley married in 1985 and divorced in 1994. Apparently, the song was missing from the setlist during Joel’s 1994 “River of Dreams” tour. This was the other song that I got sick of hearing after a while. But I like it a little more again.

Careless Talk

This song was not released as a single. This is also a good song. It pays homage Sam Cooke. Very good vocals.

Christie Lee

This was another song that was not released as a single. Gee, I wonder who this song is named after! This style pays homage to Jerry Lee Lewis.

Leave a Tender Moment Alone

This song reached only twenty-seven on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts and spent two weeks at number one for two weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart. It pays homage to Marvin Gaye. To me, it also gives the feel of an old Stevie Wonder song. It’s a very nice song. I like it a lot.

Keeping the Faith

This song reached #19 on the main US Billboard Hot 100 chart and #3 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It was the last song on the album. This song pays homage to Bob Marley. The lyrics sum up why Joel created this album with the sounds and style of 1950s and early 1960s rock and roll music, with lines like:

“If it seems like I’ve been lost in let’s remember” and
“Now I told you my reasons for the whole revival”

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