Great Rock Albums of 1987: Richard Marx

While albums by Cher, Foreigner and Fleetwood Mac passed me by with little to no notice in 1987, Richard Marx didn’t come to my attention until 1990. Therefore, I totally missed his debut album with my normal excuse that I was too busy chasing metal that year. The unfortunate aspect of this was that by the time Richard came to my attention, he was already known for singing rock ballads, so I wasn’t expecting much from his self-titled debut album. Boy, was I wrong!

Things open with a hard rocking beat from the first notes of the opening track, “Should’ve Known Better,” which was released as a single. I didn’t know that either. If that wasn’t enough, the second track, “Don’t Mean Nothing,” which was also a single, really rips with a great Southern rock style guitar riff to get it going and a great guitar solo compliments of Joe Walsh of The Eagles fame. Then the song goes out with a great boogie piano number and some great backup singing. Two songs in and I had already changed my mind about Richard Marx.

Track three is a ballad, which I recognized because “Endless Summer Nights” appears on a rock ballad compilation album which my daughter gave me for my birthday some four years ago. I didn’t dislike the track on the compilation and I like it even more now. There is some good guitar hooks on the song and it was also one of the four singles released from the album and the most successful. However, I am rather surprized that “Lonely Heart” wasn’t released as a single. This song has all the necessary components for a 1980s successful single. At the very least, it would have fit right in on the soundtrack of most 1980s teen or comedy films. Maybe it was because the follow up track, “Hold On to the Nights,” is the typical ballad type song which many people remember Richard Marx for.

With four of the first five tracks being successful singles, one may be led to think that the remainder of the album is filler, that would be a total mistake. For me, the second half of the album kicks off with the hidden gem on the album, “Have Mercy.” This song is a total rocker, the hardest rocker on the entire album! There is some great guitar work from session musician Michael Landau and it is clear to see why he was sought after by such greats as Joni Mitchell, Boz Scaggs, Minoru Nihara and James Taylor. Though the good rocking continues on with “Remember Manhattan,” another catchy hard rock song with some good horns accompaniment.

Another candidate for hidden gem is “Flame of Love.” The only reason it doesn’t beat out “Have Mercy” is that the guitars could have been turned up more. All through the song, I was waiting for metal like power chords to come in but they never do. It’s still a good song though. Then Richard goes a bit boogie blues with “Rhythm of Life.” It’s a good combo of guitar and horns. Finally, the album ends with another Richard Marx type ballad, “Heaven Only Knows.” It too would have probably had success if released as a single but it wasn’t. I do love the sax solo. This leads me to conclude that some record executive type heard the ballads on this album and Richard was encouraged to have more songs in this vein.

Track Listing:

  1. Should’ve Known Better
  2. Don’t Mean Nothing
  3. Endless Summer Nights
  4. Lonely Heart
  5. Hold On to the Nights
  6. Have Mercy
  7. Remember Manhattan
  8. The Flame of Love
  9. Rhythm of Love
  10. Heaven Only Knows

Richard Marx

Richard Marx-lead and backing vocals, keyboards, drums and piano

It seems it was the thing to do in 1987 for solo artists to have an huge army of musicians playing on different tracks on their albums. Again, familiar names will be mentioned but those names should be an indication to why the album is so good.

Joe Walsh- guitar

Michael Landau- guitar

Fee Waybill- backing vocals

Timothy B. Schmidt- backing vocals

Randy Meisner- backing vocals

Patrick O’Hearn- bass

Prairie Prince- drums

So all I can do is to apologize to Richard Marx for ever having doubted him. His debut album is a pretty cool rocker. On another note, I would like to thank all of you for your happy birthday wishes. Originally, I had planned to go to Paris for my big 6-0 because I’ve been in Europe for 35 years and haven’t visited Jim Morrison’s grave. Covid put that plan on hold. Oh well, hopefully next year.

Next post: Los Lobos- By the Light of the Moon

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26 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1987: Richard Marx”

  1. This guy Marx guy is a hoot on Twitter.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You have to follow his Twitter. Deke is right. Hilarious and cutthroat at times. Now, his music is incredible. I have been a fan since the beginning. I think he is a very underrated song writer and has some great songs…some ballads and some rockers. Great stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I repeat the ‘He’s awesome on Twitter’ refrain of the others. Also seeing this track listing took me right me right back. I had a girlfriend at the time who loved that record. Very nostalgic reading

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The album was like a mini Eagles reunion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a lot of Eagles!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good to see you liked the album. Furthermore Richard Marx could-in my view- have his sound described as a mix of Don Henley,Quarterflash and Starship and wondered if you agree with that view/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great melodic rock album. So underrated.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Funny, I hear the name Richard Marx, I would not say “rock.” But your explanation helps. And Michael Landau’s presence seals it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wanted to like him but just couldnt quite make myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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