Let’s stay with that first album, shall we? Track four is another great rock song: guitar driven, tight instrumentation, and solid vocals from Survivor’s original lead vocalist Dave Bickler. This is one of the band’s shorter song, but I have always liked how it packs a punch. The song features more of Sullivan’s excellent rhythm guitar – a great riff that leads to a surprisingly catchy bridge: “All my life you know I pretended / You go through the motions / It’s never been love / It’s always been wrong / It’s gotta be right on time / I need deep devotion / It’s gonna be real emotion / Or I refuse to love.” What follows is a short and aggressive solo – maybe my favorite one on the album. Going through these albums, I am reminded at just how solid Survivor is. The hits are regularly played on most rock or ‘80s radio stations, internet or regularly broadcasted stations. Tracks like “As Soon As Love Finds Me” displays the true rock talents of this band. I never tire of these songs.
Now let’s go back to Survivor’s self titled debut album in 1980. This opening track should be considered nothing less than a classic. It’s a simple story- rock star looking for that one special girl. Looking and looking and looking and always believing that she is out there somewhere waiting for him. Good songs do not have to be complicated. The simple sentiment is clear, “Same old story, same old song and dance / What good is the glory, if you can’t find romance / I know she is waiting / Somewhere in the Heartland / And if she’s out there tonight / I wish she would raise her hand.” Musically, the song builds nicely- a calm riff and, some bass, and a steady bass drum until the catchy rhythm guitar kicks in and carries the rest of the song. A nice solo is added to give this song some more of the rock feel and a return to that killer riff send the song out on a high night- a perfect rock classic.
Might as well book end songs – this is the final track from Too Hot to Sleep and my favorite one from this album. There are so many things I like about this song. Lyrically, this song is very strong. It is a song about not just accepting a regretful action, but also dealing with it and growing from the experience. Here is the regret: “After all the hell I tasted / Years I wasted / Love that slipped away / Suddenly a vision shook me / I see the fool I’ve become content to play.” Admitting this sort of foolish behavior is difficult and it usually stops there. Here, though, learning and adapting takes place, “I will go to any length / To find the strength / To face the night alone / Standing on the edge of time / I cross the line / My heart becomes my own.” I did not say it way a happy conclusion- but their is some growth. The chorus of this song is powerful and Jamison sings sit with raw emotions. Speaking of emotions- how about that guitar. This song highlights one of Sullivan’s best performances on the album. Once that guitar kicks in it never stops, driving through the entire song. Rhythm guitar, solo guitar – all of it is just excellent! A strong ending to a strong album.
Hi Everybody! Even though it is ’70s Week on Return to the ’80s for Remember That Song and the Quote of the Day, we will still be getting some ’80s goodness this week. Robert is back with 5 more awesome Survivor tunes. Enjoy!
Guys, I couldn’t do it. I tried and failed. I cannot let Survivor go with just five songs, so they are back. This week I will give you five more great tracks by this awesome band that seldom make any sort of radio station. I will also include tracks from the two albums I did not use last week, Survivor (1980) and Too Hot to Sleep (1988). Here they are in the same format – one song for each day this week. Sit back, crank it up, and enjoy more of the sweet sounds of Survivor.
She’s a Star (1988)
This is the first track on the Too Hot to Sleep album and it totally sets the tone for the entire album. On this album, Survivor is returning to the their early days of driving rock. Now there is nothing wrong with any of the songs on Vital Signs or When Seconds Count, but this song, like most of the others on this album, really put rock at the forefront. This can be heard from Frankie Sullivan’s opening riff, a hard, powerful rhythm guitar that draws the listener into this excellent rock album. Last week I mentioned Sullivan’s expertise with the rhythm guitar, and that is clearly still in play, but do not miss the solo work on this song (or any of the songs on this album). The solo guitar does an excellent job of giving this song some teeth with some extra added at the end of the song. Lyrically, the song is about the desire (obsession?) for a young (“All of my friends have got a bet she hasn’t seen seventeen”) woman who is climbing her way up the celebrity ladder. Her star power is clearly recognized, “I’d just love to give her what she needs besides fortune and fame.” Despite this, there is a clear sense that she is chasing the rock and roll life, or at least a rock star, “Take me to the music / Out into the night / Drag me through the fire / Do it to me right.” This is an excellent start to a fantastic album.
Today, Robert wraps up week 2 of the Deep Tracks series. As you can see, Survivor has many great songs that did not nearly get the attention that some of their bigger hits have. In fact, they have so many great songs that we will continue with Survivor next week. In the meantime, Robert will present us with a great tune to close out the week.
Can’t Let You Go (1986)
From the opening chords of this song, all rock fans are aware that they are in store for a good one. This lyric sums up the entire theme of the song: “Girls like you are hard to shake, like habits, hard as hell to break.” No, it is not Chicago, but the theme is the same. The pure rock intensity is what shines in this song. That opening riff runs through the entire song; the climax come when Sullivan lays an excellent solo on top of this catchy rhythm guitar. Enjoy the song and anticipate the 2:30 mark of it – then let your ears feast on the solo. It is fifty seconds and, once again, shows that Frankie Sullivan is clearly an underrated guitarist in the ‘80s. I have loved Survivor’s music for years, but it was not until I saw them live in 1997 that I fully understood just have good he is. Sullivan carried the entire show, just like he does this song. This song is a solid high point of this week’s deep tracks. It captures the true rock sound and precision Survivor pours into each song they record.
Wow! This is a great set of songs that helps the casual ‘80s rock fan truly understand that Survivor is way more than two songs from the Rocky soundtracks or good for a solid ballad or two. The Survivor catalog is full of so many great songs – so many, in fact, that I am not completely satisfied with leaving you with only these five. I did not even have any songs from Too Hot to Sleep! I find this wholly inadequate, so I am forced to continue giving you more deep tracks from this outstanding band. Be on the lookout for five more deep tracks from Survivor coming soon.
Sit back, relax. Here is a perfect ballad full of honest sentiment – a love story . . . and – oops, wait – this song sort of rocks! This is what I have loved about this song ever since I first heard it. “First Night” comes from Vital Signs, Survivor’s first album with new lead vocalist Jimi Jamison. Honestly, the band never misses a beat with Jamison. Actually, I like his vocals better than original lead singer Dave Bickler’s. This song is an excellent example of what many rock songs in the ‘80s were very good at: a catchy chorus. Jamison croons, “And this night shall be the first night / And first night’s are made for love I can taste the action in the air tonight / Hearts are pounding as the sparks ignite.” The speaker in this song gives the clear impression that this relationship will last for some time (or at least they will know each other for some time) and that this night will always be a special one, “And this night will be remembered / Long after the music’s gone / And we’ll reminisce on the things we said / And we’ll fall in love again.” This is another great song that is highlighted by the blending of two sub genres of ‘80s rock. The video is from a live performance in 1985.
While I absolutely love this song, I recognize that it may not be Survivor’s best one, but it is pretty good. This song begins with the signature Survivor keyboard and rhythm guitar – one of my favorite things about their music. The powerful chords are present throughout the song and there is no real solo which is not unusual for Survivor (see “Eye of the Tiger”). What has always drawn me to this song is the absolute desperation of the lyrics. The situation is simple – a pair of teens who meet in high school, fall in love, but eventually grow apart. The young man completely idolizes Jackie, “Jackie was the focus of my fantasies . . . I put Jackie on a pedestal so high above.” The relationship was intense and they ignored most good decisions, “Cutting class was getting easy / Throwing good sense down the drain. . . And when it came to fool behavior me and Jackie we wrote the book.” None of this mattered – only Jackie. As is common with many young loves, it doesn’t last. The speaker is near inconsolable and is desperate to get Jackie back, “Jackie stay, I’m living each day / In the streets of the city calling your name / Jackie, this is insane, let’s do this again.” Unfortunately, this realization comes too late and no amount of pleading will get her back, “Jackie no, Jackie don’t go / You’re a hard act to follow / Jackie go slow / Jackie please, I’m down on my knees.”
A heart wrenching song that just gets stuck in my head – and I don’t mind this at all.
Music first on this one. I clearly remember walking into the small audio store in the American shopping complex in Frankfurt, Germany with the express purpose of buying the Eye of the Tiger cassette. I had just heard the title song on the AT 40 countdown and fell in love with it. Little did I that the cassette would totally blow me away and Survivor would become one of my favorite bands – of all time. The song from this cassette that I could not get out of my mind – and that I listened to ten times in a row – was this one, “Hesitation Dance.” Guitarist Frankie Sullivan gets plenty of credit for being a master of the rhythm guitar and this song is an excellent example of this. From the very first time I listened to this song, I could not get the powerful, driving chords out of my head. It is still one of my favorite songs by Survivor and I play it for friends who do not know much about the band of think that are just another pop rock band who navigated their way through the ‘80s with moderate success. This song captures their power and it has one of Sullivan’s many excellent guitar solos. Just because many of their hits did not have long solos does not mean he cannot play them – he clearly can. I really like how the song’s beat matches the lyrical idea of ‘dancing’ as relationships begin. Just when the speaker thinks he has the girl committed to their relationship, she backs off and delays things. It sounds to me like he has had enough and is ready to move one, “Hesitation dance? / You got me in a stone cold trance / Hesitation dance / Go out and find another fool for game of chance.”
Hi Everybody! This week, we have a new Deep Tracks band courtesy of Robert Mishou. This week, he is covering one of my favorite bands – Survivor. If you are only familiar with Survivor’s hits that you have only heard on the radio, then you are in for a treat. They have so many great songs that never got much airplay. Well, I can’t hold back anymore. Here is Robert:
Deep Tracks from Survivor – Part One
For the second installment of the deep tracks series I am going to go with one of my favorite ‘80s rock bands: Survivor. Last week with a-ha, I predicted you all thought of “Take On Me” right away. This time is a bit different in that Survivor has had a number of AT 40 hits, the most famous one being “Eye of the Tiger”, but remember the purpose of this series: to push beyond the hits and suggest some tracks that were not released as singles. Survivor is one of my go to bands when I grade papers or walk/jog. I have all of their albums on my iPod and love pushing the random play option. With over one hundred songs, the experience is never the same. Survivor released six albums in the ‘80s: Premonition, Eye of the Tiger, Caught in the Game, Vital Signs, When Seconds Count, and Too Hot to Sleep. Their first album, Survivor, was recorded in 1979; it has some really good songs, so, for now, I am going let this one slide. They placed eight songs in the AT 40 and had another eleven songs that charted in the top 100. Survivor’s highest charting songs were: “Eye of the Tiger” #1, “High on You” #8, “The Search is Over” #4, “Burning Heart” #2, and “Is This Love” #9 – but I am not here to write about these songs! There will be five deep tracks presented this week that will help you fully appreciate the power and expertise of Survivor.
Summer Nights (1981)
Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the quality of lyric writing that I sometimes forget that some of the best songs songs are about simple ideas and have straightforward lyrics that are able to capture a touching sentiment. “Summer Nights” does capture a common feeling that (too) many of us have experienced. That summer love that burned so bright, so intense, is now gone – now the yearning for that love has taken over. The speaker knows he will never truly get it back, “I’m out in the cold again / Back on my own again.” I am fascinated with the first verse; there is a clear sense of fatalism – both jump right into the intense relationship that is sure to be temporary, “”Young and innocent and living fast / Didn’t know enough to know that a summer love can’t last / Can’t last.” Despite this, both jump in and are willing to experience the intense emotions at the same time understanding the necessity of feeling the pain that comes with letting the love go. My earlier comment about simple ideas was not intended to imply that this song is not well written. This verse displays solid creative talent: “I remember playing by the shoreline / Before the fall we had it ll out our fingertips / Building castles in the shifting sand / Raced the waves as they ran to the shore / But the tides were turned for ever more / All the things we planned / Were castles made of sand.” Not bad writing at all. I have always been a huge fan of Survivor’s guitarist, Frankie Sullivan, and keyboardist Jim Peterik. This song is a fine example of the blending of both, a piano that carries and sustains the song and a guitar that highlights and captures the emotional yearning. This song did reach #62 on the charts, but it is seldom heard on any ‘80s radio stations, so it is a great place to begin a deeper look at Survivor.