Great Rock Albums of 1988: Survivor- Too Hot to Sleep

Sometimes I wonder if there is some sort of mathematical link between my liking an album and its chart success because I really like this album “Too Hot to Sleep” by Survivor. However, the album was not a successful album chart-wise. Survivor proved to me in 1984, with the “Vital Signs” album that they didn’t need the “Rocky” films to achieve success. It was further cemented with their previous album, “When Seconds Count.” So, I can’t figure for the life of me why this album did so poorly because I really like it or maybe that’s the reason.

“Too Hot to Sleep” borders on being heavy metal on some tracks. That was made clear on the opening track, “She’s a Star.” When I heard those power chords, I thought, “Wow, this is good!” Another point is the fact that Frankie Sullivan nails some really cool guitar solos on many songs, including the one already mentioned. Hell, looking at the video, he looks like he could be a metal guitarist. Actually all three members look pretty metal in that video. On the other hand, Survivor didn’t completely abandon the melodic rock formula which brought them fame. “Desperate Dreams” is living proof of that fact.

Like with their previous album, the title track is one that does it for me. It has that hauntingly cool acoustic guitar intro followed by the dependable vocals of Jimi Jamison and supported by keyboard work from Jim Peterik and of course a killer solo from Frank. He really goes mad at the end. The only thing needed was to turn up the guitars an octave or so higher.

“Didn’t Know It Was Love” stays in traditional Survivor territory. It reminds me of “High On You” from the “Vital Signs” album and I’m more than a little surprised that it didn’t make a dent in the singles charts. It’s a song meant for such things. Meanwhile, “Rhythm of the City” is a straightforward rocker with a great rhythm guitar riff. This song is definitely close to metal and out of all my blubbering about the guitar playing of Frankie, he’s at his best on this one. One way to describe this track is to think of “Burning Heart” from “Rocky IV” as a metal tune. No doubt, this one gets my vote for hidden gem. Talking about “Burning Heart,” “Here Comes Desire” is a song which is closer to that. It has a definite swagger to it, especially with Jim tinkling the ivories on it and a great guitar solo from Frankie.

The track that did have some chart success is the ballad “Across the Miles.” Jimi’s vocals are the key to this one although he is backed up well by the other two. “Tell Me I Am the One” is more in the 80s pop vein but the backing vocals are good and Frankie keeps it from becoming a total pop song. Things go more rock on “Can’t Give It Up.” The band is spot on with this one with some nice little guitar hooks and you get double the prizes, a good guitar solo and the song is taken out with some keyboard wizardry from Jim. The album goes out with authority with the almost power ballad like “Burning Bridges.” Was the title a metaphor of things to come? Who knows? But it does end the album well.

Historical facts I understand these days which I couldn’t fathom back then was Survivor replaced bassist Stephen Ellis and drummer Marc Droubay with studio musicians. On the tour for “When Seconds Count,” Stephen developed a stomach ulcer and was unable to play on many of the tour dates. Marc was becoming more disillusioned with the band’s shift to more pop and was eventually dismissed from the band. That’s the strange thing, I wouldn’t call “Too Hot to Sleep” a pop album, more melodic rock inching towards melodic hard rock.

Track Listing:

  1. She’s a Star
  2. Desperate Dreams
  3. Too Hot to Sleep
  4. Didn’t Know It Was Love
  5. Rhythm of the City
  6. Here Comes Desire
  7. Across the Miles
  8. Tell Me I’m the One
  9. Can’t Give It Up
  10. Burning Bridges
Survivor

Jimi Jamison- lead and backing vocals

Frankie Sullivan- guitar, backing vocals

Jim Peterik- keyboards

Additional Musicians:

Peter-John Vettesse- keyboards

Bill Syniar- bass

Mickey Curry- drums

Ian Lloyd- backing vocals

Tommy Shaw- backing vocals

Rory Dodd- additional lead vocals on “Across the Miles”

Survivor would take a hiatus after “Too Hot to Sleep” although Jimi Jamison would tour under the band’s name resulting in legal disputes. It’s a damn shame this album didn’t take off because this whole album has been a hidden gem for me.

Next post: Bonfire- Fireworks

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

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19 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1988: Survivor- Too Hot to Sleep”

  1. Mickey Curry is a machine on the drums.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Rebel Girl” is still my favorite Survivor song.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bonfire is up next. Hell yeah.

    And I also liked this album. Their melodic rock was definitely up my alley at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With my aging mind, I almost forgot that I begin any year with albums which came out the previous year but didn’t come to my attention until the year I’m covering, like Bonfire. I appreciate “Too Hot to Sleep” much more now than back then.

      Like

  4. I liked this one, but for me was a let down after the prior two. Jimi Jamison has always been a favorite singer of mine and a shame he died so young.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting. I never had anything other than a cassette of Vital Signs as a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

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