Great Rock Albums of 1987: Loverboy- Wildside

When I lived in the US, I was frustrated by the fact that there were some great albums from British bands which I only heard about or passed me by totally. In 1987, having been in the UK for nearly a year, I was getting frustrated the other way around. The only reason that I discovered that Canadian rock legends Loverboy had an album out in said year was because my friends’ band, Torque Show’ opened for them when they played at the famous Marquee Club in London. While big in North America throughout the 1980s, Loverboy never really made a great impact in the UK. Of course, another reason was the fact that their album, “Wildside,” was their first album not to go platinum, signifying a great decline in the band’s popularity.

Torque Show

This album confirms that whatever I think, the mainstream public seems to take the opposing view. Therefore, I conclude that the reason why “Wildside” wasn’t such a popular album is because I like it. After the more keyboard oriented “Keep It Up” album, Loverboy went more hard rock with their follow up 1985 album, “Lovin’ Every Minute of It.” With “Wildside,” that hard rock progression continues. Sure, the keyboards are there but they are used in a way which complements the music. One great example of this is the track, “Walkin’ On Fire,” where you get to hear some great keyboard moments behind the hard rock before Paul Dean rips out a cool guitar solo. Then again, keyboards players in hard rock or metal don’t always get the recognition they deserve and Doug Johnson does a superb job on the keys on this album. It’s my vote for song of the album.

One aspect of “Wildside,” which I find rather amusing is that many of the songs have an intro which sound like they are going to be an 1980s synth song but then the rock just completely takes over. One song which highlights this is “Can’t Get Much Better.” The introduction sounds like it’s going to be a Night Ranger clone but then the guitars come pounding in. I also like the way the guitar complements the harmonizing on the chorus. An even more synth pop intro is “Love Will Rise Again.” This track is the closest the band comes to synth pop as there is a synthesizer loop in the background but they do not overtake Dean’s guitar. I do love the riff after the guitar solo.

With the previous Loverboy albums, I never took really notice of the bass but it does come through quite noticeably on the album. So here’s where I get to sing the praises of Scott Smith, especially on the way his bassline is used on the intro of the title track. So well done Scott! I can’t leave out the other two members. As always, Mike Reno’s vocals are brilliant, he sounds even better than he did on the previous album and stating the obvious, drummer Matt Frenette gives all the songs their much needed heartbeat. I think the best song where they all come together is the power ballad, “Don’t Keep Me in the Dark.” Especially at the end where there is this spooky vibe to it.

Track Listing:

  1. Notorious
  2. Walkin’ on Fire
  3. Break It to Me Gently
  4. Love Will Rise Again
  5. Can’t Get Much Better
  6. Hometown Hero
  7. Wildside
  8. Don’t Let Go
  9. That’s Where My Money Goes
  10. Read My Lips

Mike Reno- lead vocals

Paul Dean- guitar, backing vocals

Scott Smith- bass

Doug Johnson- keyboards

Matt Frenette- drums

Most of the world might have ignored “Wildside” but I didn’t. It’s an album, which got bypassed in a time where musical tastes were divulging into separate camps. Metalheads probably thought it too commercial and trendies, too hard rock. Whatever camp people are in, I still like it.

Next post: George Harrison- Cloud Nine

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10 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1987: Loverboy- Wildside”

  1. The reason it didn’t do very well is actually because I liked it!! I found it to be one of their best albums actually. Much heavier in some areas and I feel a more mature sound. It happened with a lot of bands, Quiet Riot’s popularity waned then they released QRIII, the public hated it, I liked it. Same with Winger’s Pull and White Lion’s Mane Attraction. It happened all the time with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. They are one of the better bands from Canada, but they were not in the same class as RUSH.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We talked a bit to mixer engineer about this album. It’s a stellar record both in songs and production! You’re bang on with the solo in Love Will Tis Again is classic. Great writeup Sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I suppose we took them for granted around here, somewhat, but they were indeed a solid act!

    Liked by 1 person

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