Late February in 1981, I have just returned to the US after being in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean for six months. Desperately recovering from a six month diet of powdered eggs and milk, I go into the café at the PX. Being away from the American music scene for so long, I have a look at the juke box and I spy a new song from REO Speedwagon called “Keep On Loving You.” Naturally, I have to listen to it so I put my quarter in and wait. My thoughts upon hearing it was sure, it’s a power ballad but after “Time For Me to Fly,” I came to the conclusion that they did those well anyway. I thought the same with the song I was listening to at that moment, especially when Gary Richrath delivers with a killer guitar solo as he normally does. My ending thought was that a new album from REO Speedwagon was definitely a great thing to come back to when I returned home.
In order to appreciate this album, I had to take myself back to the same mindset I was in during 1981. I thought this was a great rocker of an album back then and listening to it again after so many years with that frame of mind reminded me so. The problem was is that when I first tried to remember the album, the power ballads came to mind first as did the two more pop sound tracks, “In Your Letter” and “Out of Season.” However, even those songs aren’t as poppy as I made myself believe, especially the latter where Neil Doughty shows he can dominate a keyboard. He does the same with the opener “Don’t Let Him Go” even though the song is a good album opening rocker. I also forgot what a great little rocker “Follow My Heart” was but two songs still stick out for me because some of the shit I went through in that year. The lyrics from “Take It On the Run” could have been written especially for me back then but still, the song is probably my favourite on the album. As he does with most of the songs, Richrath rocks it. The result of the last song made the next one on the album totally appropriate. I don’t want to bore you with details of my personal life, but if there had been a He Man Woman Haters Club, I would have joined it, nuff said on that. The songs after that one are all good rockers and the band shows a bit of versatility by letting Bruce Hall sing lead on “Someone Tonight.” The closer “I Wish You Were There” is another power ballad but it is takes the album out on the right note. It was no wonder, this album got played to death in my car stereo back in 1981.
1. Don’t Let Him Go
2. Keep On Loving You
3. Follow My Heart
4. In Your Letter
5. Take It On the Run
6. Tough Guys
7. Out of Season
8. Shakin’ It Loose
9. Someone Tonight
10. I Wish You Were There
Kevin Cronin- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
Gary Richrath- lead guitar, 12 string guitar, backing vocals
Neil Doughty- piano, synthesisers, keyboards
Bruce Hall- bass, lead vocal on “Someone Tonight”
Alan Gratzer- drums, backing vocals
This album would be a major turning point in some respects for REO Speedwagon. While “Hi Infidelity” is a rocking album, the fact that they would have a ballad type single in the Billboard Top Ten would prove to be their ultimate downfall. So you could say it was here where they would go from being good to being popular and they weren’t the only band this would happen to in 1981. Saying that, if you can forget all that history and just have a listen to the album, you will see why everyone I know was screaming about so much back in that year.
Next post: Styx- Paradise Theatre
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