Category Archives: 1983

20 Album Challenge – Day 2

Day 2 of albums that have had an impact on me is Quiet Riot’s Metal Health.

220px-MetalHealthQuietRiot

I had been getting more into rock music by 1983. However, it was difficult to find since it wasn’t really played on the radio. You would find out about new hard rock songs from word of mouth. But, this all changed with the release of Metal Health. “Cum On Feel the Noize” changed the musical landscape as hard rock was brought into the mainstream. The song got a lot of radio airplay. This was also the early days of MTV, so the song was featured heavily there as well. And just as “Cum On Feel the Noize” was beginning to get overplayed, the title track was released, and rocked my world! I just had to get this album! I got it for Christmas in 1983, and there was not a bad song on there. “Slick Black Cadillac” was (and still is) my favorite song on that album. And 13 year old me loved that there was a song called “Love’s a Bitch” on there. Oooooo! A bad word in the title! What a rebel!

I still love Quiet Riot, and actually saw them in concert last year. Frankie Banali, the drummer, is the lone remaining member of the lineup from this album. But, they were still great and still rock.

Here is the album on Spotify:

If you’d like to get this album on Amazon, you can click on the album cover below:

Albums of the ’80s: Journey – Frontiers

Hi Everybody, Robert returns with a new Albums of the ’80s article. This one is by one of our favorite bands. He also has a special announcement to make about a new frontier that Return to the ’80s is taking.


In the world of ‘80s rock, single words sometimes pack a big punch. That word today is: JOURNEY. There is not much need to introduce this iconic band – I feel confident that most of you know about them and at least one or two or ten songs by them. Return to the ‘80s has devoted several articles and reviews to their classic music and I would like to continue this trend by taking a look at their 1983 album Frontiers.

But first, before I get to looking at this excellent album, an announcement. We have all listened to podcasts about ‘80s movies, music, and other cultural phenomena. Also, after appearing on several podcasts (Beats and Eats, Forgotten Films to name two) as a guest, the creator of this blog has been encouraged, coerced, and inundated with the idea making his own Return to the ‘80s podcast. I am lucky enough to be involved in the creating of this podcast and we are well on our way to recording the first episode which, coincidentally enough will be a look at the band featured in this review. Yes, the first Return to the ‘80s podcast will be about Journey, so keep following here and you will know when this episode is ready and released. I know that we are excited about this project and we hope you will be as well. We look forward to your comments, suggestions, and input as we embark on this adventure. You can email us at returnto80s@gmail.com.

Now on to Frontiers.
Honestly, for the past week I have been preparing for the podcast by completely immersing myself in all things Journey. I have listened to every album, watched every DVD, and read every printed word that I have on this iconic band. Let me tell you that I have enjoyed every second of this. I never need to be reminded about how much I love Journey, and revisiting all of their music has done nothing but strengthen my resolve in believing that Journey is one of the top bands to come out of the ‘70s and enjoy enormous success in the ‘80s, leaving a lasting impression on millions of fans. I was clearly one of those lucky fans.

I bought Frontiers in 1983 at Saturn records, my favorite record store in Frankfurt, Germany. They had everything you could imagine. I was eager to buy Frontiers because I had recently discovered Escape. I missed most of the hoopla of this album in 1981 because I was moving to Germany. I clearly remember seeing an advertisement and article about a Journey video game, but I did not know much about the band. A few weeks later I was perusing records at the local American library (yes, I went to get a book, but also checked out the records) and picked up an album called Escape. It was on that day that my love for Journey started. I went home and immediately put the record on my stereo . . . and fell in love. From the opening notes of “Don’t Stop Believing” to the fade of “Open Arms”, I was hooked on this band. So when Frontiers was released I hopped on the subway, walked into Saturn Records, walked straight to the ‘J’ section, and bought Frontiers.

Right from the first listen I knew that I would not be disappointed. While the melodic sound of Journey is present on the album, it is a bit ‘heavier’ than Escape. Frontiers has a sound that is more akin to “Dead or Alive” from the Escape album – more driving guitars and faster paced songs. This is one of my favorite records to release my inner rock star – I always (last night, in fact) jam and wail on the silent strings of my air guitar. To me, this is the second consecutive album by Journey that has no throw away tracks; every song is solid and make for a fantastic whole. The album itself reached #2 on the charts, reaching six times platinum and had four AT 40 singles. Now let’s take a look at the songs.

Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (#8)

This is easily my absolute favorite Journey song! I like love songs and I do not mind breakup songs and this one really stands out. It is not a slow moving, pensive ballad where someone is looking for who is to blame. Instead, this song kinda rocks. It is uptempo and has a great rhythm guitar riff that is aggressive and sustained throughout the song. By this, his second with Journey, keyboardist Jonathan Cain has firmly entrenched himself in the band. His distinct keyboard sound opens this song and sets up that killer guitar riff by Neal Schon. The entire band is clearly heard in this song; in addition to the keyboards and guitar, Valory’s bass and Smith’s drums are pounding the whole time. Lyrically, the song depicts the end of a relationship, “Feeling that it’s gone / Can’t change your mind / If we can’t go on / Survive the tide / Love divides.” While this is not a major departure from other break up songs, the reaction to the end is much more unique. He is not mad at her or looking for a way to get back at her. Instead, he still loves her so wishes her luck in moving on and, perhaps, finding someone else: “One day love will find you / Break those chains that bind you.” He also lets her know that if things go poorly, he will be there to help, “If he ever hurts you / True love won’t desert you / You know I still love you / Though we touched and went our separate ways.” I am completely fascinated by his acceptance of the end of the relationship without any bitterness, anger, or desire for revenge. This is a great way to start an album.

Send Her My Love (#23)

This is the first of two solid ballads on this album. The next one (track #4) gets a little more attention and airplay, but this one is just as good. Musically, this song is an atypically quiet one for this album. All of the instruments keep a steady pace and even Schon’s guitar solo is understated, capturing the pain the speaker is in. Interestingly enough, both ballads have a similar theme – being on the road and away from loved ones. This is one aspect of being in a band that I cannot relate to or imagine how I would handle. Clearly, the speaker is away from, and has most likely lost his love. He has not seen her in quite some time and the monotony of the road is getting to him, “The same hotel, the same old room / I’m on the road again / She needed so much more than I could give / We knew our love could not pretend.” Next comes what may be my favorite lyric on the album, “Broken hearts can always mend.” I love how this line captures the resigned desperation that he is forced to accept. As much as I want to deny the truth of this line, I am unable to. Having a broken heart stinks, but we have the ability to recover and survive the unfortunate situation. The climax of this song lies in the bridge, “Calling out her name, I’m dreaming / Reflections of the face I’m seeing / It’s her voice that keeps on haunting me.” Maybe we do move on – maybe we do recover – but maybe we never really forget either.

Chain Reaction

Sometimes love can make us do some silly things and sometimes we let love change who we are. As this song depicts, those changes are not always positives. The first thing that jumps out of this song is the driving rhythm guitar. Schon is at the top of his game here, creating a driving sound with small solos worked in throughout the song. This song features a keyboard solo of sorts and ends with a classic Schon solo. I love the black and white concept used in the video because it matches the song’s theme perfectly. The song is about a man who has changed who he is to please a woman – he has flipped from black to white. I see this song being written by a friend who sees these changes and does not understand why they are happening; he just wants the old friend back the way he was. This becomes evident right away, “I bet you she’s the one / Who helped you come undone” and “I bet you she’d like to say / She’s changed you in every way.” I think the chorus does an excellent job in capturing the mood and meaning of the song, “Chain reaction, shades of passion / We surrender, lose control / Chain reaction, strange attraction / Love’s a viper, steals your soul.” Great imagery for a rocking song.

After the Fall (#23)

Up next is a song about regret. As we have come to expect from Journey, there is a smooth blend of all band members’ instruments and a great low key solo from Schon to close the song. The regret lies in not saying what should have been said and accepting that it is now too late. The first line sets up the situation with, “Now love is gone / I can’t go on, now love is gone.” He is forced to do a little self evaluation in order to discover why it is over. There are many things that he “should have told her” like: “You meant more to me than I let you see” and “. . . valentines never sent”. He is now left only with memories and an answer to the question, “What’s left after the fall?” The painful answer that he now has to accept is “No, not much.”

Faithfully (#12)

Here is that second outstanding ballad that has evolved to become a rival to “Open Arms” on the radio and in Journey’s live shows. It is a perfect rock ballad: strong piano that carries the song, powerful bass and drums, and a guitar that sears through soul of the listener. I am not sure if anyone has a better voice for a rock ballad than Steve Perry and this song provides even more evidence to support that claim. Like track #2, Jonathan Cain has written a song about the difficulties of being on the road and touring constantly. The speaker is on the road again and missing his woman who has been left at home again. The song is full of phrases that show this; he “sends his love along the wire”, but he never seems to be enough. He is holding on to her because “right down the line it’s been you and me”. We get the strong sense that this couple will survive the difficult times because the passion is clear when they are reunited, “And being apart ain’t easy on this love affair / Two strangers learn to fall in love again / I get the joy of rediscovering you.” Of course, ultimately because, “Oh girl, you stand by me / I’m forever yours, faithfully.” I know all of you readers have, at one time or another, had a sincere slow dance with someone who love while this song was playing. I have, and still do.

Edge of the Blade

Up next is a bitter song that reminds us that not all breakups end nicely. This is an aggressive song that reveals the acrimonious nature of the split. I do not think the speaker to soo happy about her approach, it seems quite spiteful, “I’ve heard rumors all around / Contracts and lawyers, champagne downtown.” He just wants to be done with it and her, but he does leave her with one thing to think about, “Better see if you’re holding the wrong edge of the blade / If it’s sharp, if it cuts / Enjoy yourself.” The lyrics in this song a sharp and short because the true power lies in the music. Everything – the bass, the drums, the keyboards, and, of course, the guitar is powerful and being played with intensity. This is one of the songs that characterizes this album as having a harder rock edge than some of Journey’s other work – I love it!

Troubled Child

This song replaced “Only the Young” during the final cuts for Frontiers; this song would later appear on the soundtrack to Vision Quest as well as Greatest Hits. I must say that I have mixed feelings about this swap. I like this song, but I am not sure how it can be swapped with the original idea of using “Only the Young.” That is a much stronger song and with (see next track), this album may have surpassed Escape in overall quality. Despite this, “Troubled Child” is a solid song with Schon’s typical great guitar work in a song that builds nicely and is completely fits Frontiers. The chorus captures the tone and sentiment of the song: “War with yourself / Makes you feel better / Caught behind the lines / Troubled child.” Lyrically, this is not a typical Journey song, but it definitely sounds like them and deserves a spot on this album. Quick note for this and the next track: a later remastered version of Frontiers was released and included the two tracks that were replaced as well as “Only Solutions” and “Liberty” (this version can be purchased on iTunes).

Back Talk

This song replaced “Ask the Lonely” during the final cuts for Frontiers; this song would later appear on the soundtrack to Two of a Kind as well as Greatest Hits 1. I understand including this song a bit better than the previous track. I love the opening drums by Steve Smith – the sound sets up a rocking song. As soon as you get into the groove of the drums, Schon’s guitar kicks in and the listener is ready for the ride. The lyrics are all clipped lines that are as aggressive as the music. It is a simple song that does not really fit with other Journey lyrics so it has a fresh feel to it. This is an enjoyable rocker with perhaps the best solo on the album.

Frontiers

For this song Journey jumps on the burgeoning technology bandwagon and gives the approval for looking to the future for positive advancements. Just looking for technological changes is a bit too narrow. They are making a statement here that we all need to look ahead and strive for the best of what the future has to offer. We, in essence, make our own futures and we cannot be afraid to take the words from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” to heart: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” This song fits the theme in the album’s title.

Rubicon

Frontiers ends, as it should, on a rocking note. I love Journey’s album Escape, but if I was to be a bit critical, I do not like ending that album with “Open Arms”. Hold on hold on – I love the song, I just do not like ending such a great album on a soft, subtle note – I want it to end with a BANG! and “Rubicon” does that for Frontiers. This song does rock with Schon’s guitar getting yet another song off to a great start. ‘Rubicon’ is the name of the small river in Italy that Julius Caesar was said to have crossed as he was fighting to be the emperor of Rome. Today the expression ‘to cross the Rubicon’ means to fully commit to something and pass the point of no return. I like the expression and the way that Journey uses it. They typically have one or two inspirational songs on an album and this one is in the same vein as “Don’t Stop Believing”, “Be Good To Yourself”, and “To Be Alive Again”. They are urging us to take a chance and move forward to make the life that we want, “Make your move across the Rubicon / Future’s knocking at your door / Take your time and choose the road you want / Opportunity is yours.” I can think of no better way to end an album- rock out and inspire. That is ending with a BANG!

There you have it, Journey’s classic seventh album Frontiers. Be sure you look at for and listen to the Return to the ‘80s podcast coming at you soon.

Albums of the ’80s: Night Ranger – Midnight Madness

Hi Everybody, Robert is back to share another album with us. While Dawn Patrol, Night Ranger’s 1982 debut album, is outstanding, Midnight Madness is the band’s big breakthrough album. Most children of the ’80s know about 3 or 4 songs from this album. But, this album is great from top to bottom. As with our other albums and Top 40 Countdowns, you can click on the song title to hear the song and/or watch the video.
And after reading this, if you want to download the album, you can go ahead and buy it at Amazon.
OK Robert, now I need a touch, I need a touch of madness…

Night Ranger – Midnight Madness

 There are so many great rock albums that came out of the ‘80s that it  is difficult to choose which are my favorites. Many of these albums  have been reviewed right here on Return to the ‘80s, but there are  many others that deserve attention. I have recently been absorbed in my revisiting the supergroup Damn Yankees and learning the songs from the new supergroup Revolution Saints – and I realized that both of these bands have a member in common: bass player and vocalist Jack Blades. Now I have it. I know what band I have to write about – one of my all time favorites – Night Ranger. I no longer even try to break the 5 way tie I have for favorite band. The are (in no order because I just can’t) REO Speedwagon, Bon Jovi, Journey, Survivor, and Night Ranger.

Night Ranger has plenty of albums to choose from, but I am going to go with their breakthrough classic Midnight Madness.

Midnight Madness, released in 1983, is Night Ranger’s second studio album following their debut effort Dawn Patrol. This album still ranks as their most successful one selling over 1 million copies and peaking at #15 on Billboard’s album charts. This album features Night Ranger’s signature hard rocking style- great guitar work with irresistible hooks and choruses.

Recently, the band’s line up has undergone a few changes, but Midnight Madness features the original line up: Jack Blades on bass and vocals, Kelly Keagy on drums and vocals, Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson on guitars (yes, two guitarists – and they are amazing), and Alan Fitzgerald on keyboards. Enough background- let’s get to the fantastic rock music!

(You Can Still) Rock in America

From the opening guitar licks this song captures what it is like to be young, wild, and free – and a teenager growing up with the rock n’ roll blasting. The lyrics feature two such teens- one male and one female – each doing whatever it takes to experience the thrill of a live show:

Little sister makes a move for the door

The door squeaks she’s on the second floor

Her daddy wakes, ‘Is everything OK?’

Not a sound as she makes her getaway

Little brother’s got it ready to roll

Tires burning as they head for the show

Light it up and turn the music up loud

And rock it, rock it, rock it

Add to this fantastic dueling guitar solos and you have the perfect rock anthem. The video is from a live performance of this song. This makes is possible to hear how truly powerful this band is. Quick side note: the last time I saw Night Ranger, they opened with this song and oh my!!!

 

Rumours in the Air

Cool opening keyboards (actually throughout the song) and a topic that many of us are familiar with – love gone bad. Relationships do not always end with the fairy tale ‘together forever’, sometimes things end poorly – and sometimes they end so poorly that the one who is left behind feels it is necessary to make up stories about the other person. This song tells that story, “Rumors in the air like a thief in the night / Taking more than their share / Taking more than their right.” Great song with another solid guitar solo (yes, this is going to get repetitive).

Why Does Love Have to Change

I absolutely love the intro to this song- the guitar riff grabs the listener right away. This song features the unfortunate situation of a love that may have lasted too long, “Through the eyes things look different than before / Spark and the flame it will never be the same.” . . . and – wait for it – another great solo.

Sister Christian

This is Night Ranger’s biggest hit and by far their most famous song – and what is not to like about it? It is a near perfect rock ballad that drummer/lead vocalist Kelly Keagy wrote about his younger sister who was getting ready to strike out on her own. I love how the video begins with the ticking clock – time stands still for no one- which segues into the piano. The song itself begins with a quiet, pensive tone before Keagy’s drums kick in and the well known chorus arrives: (all sing along) “Your motoring, what’s your price for flight / In finding Mister Right / You’ll be alright tonight.” As good as Gillis’s solo is in this song, it pales by comparison to some of his other guitar work. As much as I love all of the piano and guitars, my favorite part of this song is how the drums take center stage; they add an intensely dramatic feel to the song and the lyrical pleading that is taking place: please slow down and do not try to grow up too fast.

Touch of Madness

This song opens with a jack-in-the-box playing and slowing down THEN the guitars kick in and imitate the jingle. Great opening to an extremely catchy song in which the rhythm guitars establish a great groove. Oh, and yes, another slick dual guitar solo.

Passion Play

This song has my favorite opening lyrics, “In a backstreet bar on the south side of town / Where the music never stops and the sun never hangs around.” Great song with yet another excellent guitar solo. I know I have mentioned the solos a few times, but each one adds so much to the song and never becomes redundant or predictable.

 

When You Close Your Eyes

It is impossible to hear the opening guitar and be able to turn this song off. This song features the power of having two excellent vocalists as Blades and Keagy take turns asking that painfully irresistible question: after a breakup, does that girl still have me on her mind? This is the first Night Ranger song that really grabbed my attention. I loved Sister Christian, but this song has a bit more to it. Despite it’s upbeat tempo, the pain in the lyrics is obvious, “No good for an old memory to mean so much today.” What a great line!

Check out the video- does the actress look familiar? (you need to watch the video for Sister Christian, too)

Chippin’ Away

This song opens with a hammer sound clanging it’s way into a hand clapping drum beat, then, you guessed it, the guitars show up. Jack Blades shines on this song as a vocalist; his phrasing is excellent and he brings a clear energy to his performance. Yes, there is a guitar solo here. Yes, it rocks.

 

Let Him Run

The video is another live version- Jeff Watson’s acoustic guitar is too good not to include it. If you like unplugged versions of songs, check out the live album 24 Strings and a Drummer. This song is a fine example of an acoustic driven ballad. It does not quite have the strength of a Sister Christian, but brings the album to a great close, leaving the listener wanting just a bit more.


While achieving plenty of success, Night Ranger has never been on the top of the rock heap. Today, most of their songs that are played on the radio (the most recognizable ones) come from this album. Night Ranger’s music makes (audio) appearances in Sixteen Candles, Rock of Ages, Rock Band 3, and Guitar Hero. I own all of their albums including the most recent High Road released in 2014. They have no bad songs and rock as much as any band that I regularly listen to. If you have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing Night Ranger’s great sound, now it is the time. Start with Midnight Madness, but do yourself a favor and do not stop – keep going! I promise you will find dozens of songs that will make you sing out loud and believe that yes, you can still rock in America.

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?

Albums of the ’80s: Lionel Richie – Can’t Slow Down

After a successful run with The Commodores, Lionel Richie decided to go out on his own as a solo artist. His 1982 self-titled debut was very successful as he had hits with the ballads “Truly”, “You Are” and “My Love.” But, it was his 1983 follow-up album, Can’t Slow Down, that launched Lionel Richie into the stratosphere.

The album was released on October 11, 1983, and reached #1 on the Billboard album chart on December 3, 1983, where it stayed for three weeks. It also spent 59 consecutive weeks inside the Top 10 (including the entire year of 1984) and a total of 160 weeks (over three years) on the Billboard 200. After being the third best-selling album of 1984, it went on to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1985 and by 1986 the album had sold 15 million copies, eventually selling over 20 million.

One reason for this album’s success may be that not only did he include sure-fire hit ballads, but he also included uptempo songs, and dance hits. While Lionel Richie did have a successful run after Can’t Slow Down, he could not match the success of this classic album.

Can’t Slow Down only had 8 songs on the entire album. Out of the 8 songs, 5 were released as singles. And each of those 5 songs hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Two songs, “Hello” and “All Night Long (All Night)”, both went to #1. So let’s Return to 1983, and listen to Lionel Richie’s classic Can’t Slow Down album:

1. “Can’t Slow Down”

Unless you owned this album, the chances are pretty good that you never heard this title track. It’s not bad, but it would not have been a hit if it was released as a single. Let’s see if watching the beginning of this video brings back memories. And I’m not talking about the song itself. You’ll see what I mean…

2. “All Night Long (All Night)”

Perhaps this is Lionel Richie’s signature song. It combines the soul that he brought to the Commodores along with a little Carribean style. The result – a #1 smash hit. I owned the 45 of this song. Unlike my AC/DC Back in Black cassette that I supplied for our class dances in Junior High, my “All Night Long (All Night)” record actually got some airplay.

Here is the music video, which was produced by former Monkee Michael Nesmith:

3. “Penny Lover”

This ballad was the fifth and final single released from the album. As with all the other singles released from this album, “Penny Lover” was a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, spending two weeks at #8 in December 1984.

4. “Stuck on You”

This nice ballad was the fourth single released from the album, and peaked at #3. This song has kind of a Country Music feel to it. Richie is no stranger to the format, as he wrote the Kenny Rogers Smash hit, “Lady”.

5. “Love Will Find a Way”

I love the lyrics to this song. No matter how difficult life gets, and how challenging the changes you are going through are, love will find a way for you to make it through. However, the song itself is kind of boring for me. It’s not a ballad, and it’s definitely not an uptempo song. This is probably my least favorite song on the album.

6. “The Only One”

This is a nice song too. It has an early-80s Easy Listening sound to it.

7. “Running with the Night”

This is my personal favorite song from the album. It has more of a Rock feel to it than the other songs. And it doesn’t hurt that the guitar solo was played by Steve Lukather of Toto.

8. “Hello”

This #1 smash hit was the third single released from the album. It is best known for the video in which Lionel Richie is in love with a blind art student. Is she in love with him? She must be! She made a creepy-ass sculpture of his head! This was not one of my favorite songs. It was way overplayed at the time it was released. And as far as ballads go, I much preferred “Truly” from his last album.
However over time, I have grown to like it.

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”