Archive for Signs of Life

Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1984: Billy Squier- Signs of Life

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2018 by 80smetalman

With all the great metal artists, old and new, releasing stellar albums in 1984, it was only natural that the best American artist not to have cracked the UK put an album out as well. Billy Squier’s “Signs of Life” album came out in the summer of that year and would go platinum. However, I have always been reluctant to call “Signs of Life” a metal album because Billy tries to mesh his hard rock style with what was the current techno sound of the time. He uses a lot more synthesizers on the album and though they don’t make the album suck, I still like it a lot, I do prefer “Emotions in Motion” and “Don’t Say No” to this one.

Everybody identifies “Signs of Life” with Squier’s best selling single, “Rock Me Tonight,” which is on it. Before I got into that, I would like to mention the other tracks that appear here. On the opening riffs of the first track, “All Night Long,” you are led to believe that this is going to be a total Squier metal fest. It is one of the harder tracks on the album and has a pretty cool guitar solo. “Eyes on You” which follows the hit single, goes more into the vein I was talking about. The synths are there but you the hard rock roots which brought Billy Squier to the top still are present. Less keyboards appear on “Take a Look Behind Ya” and the guitars dominate. I do think it would have sounded better if the guitars were turned up a little more. Then it would have been an even cooler rocker, especially the way it ends on a guitar solo.

When I wrote about the Billy Squier concert in “Rock and Roll Children,” I had to pick my sister’s brains as she saw it and I didn’t. During the playing of “Reach For the Sky” she said he used lights that flipped up. Listening to the song, I can imagine that this combination would have been amazing to see and hear. He couldn’t have picked a better song to do this to. However, playing  live, he wouldn’t have had Brian May on stage with him to do the guitar solo on “(Another) 1984” and Mr May does work his magic here. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

On “Fall for Love,” the keyboards are done very well to mix with the music. This is a more mellower song and the keyboards as well as the guitar suit it nicely. On the other hand, “Can’t Get Next to You” is one of the best rockers on the album. The keys are used to compliment the music and are done so sparingly. Again, I think they should have turned up the guitars a little more but that’s me. I think producer Jim Steinman must have had other ideas. Except for Brian’s efforts on “(Another) 1984,” this song has the best guitar solo on it and I sometimes think that this would have made a better closer than “Sweet Release.” I stress, sometimes!

Now onto the single, “Rock Me Tonight.” To be right to the point, I have always liked this song. It’s my fourth favourite Squier song behind “In the Dark,” “Everybody Wants You” and “The Stroke.” See, Billy was great at putting out singles I liked. Back in 1984, I didn’t really clock the effeminate nature behind the video to it. I was too busy rocking out to the song. However, this video is believed to have destroyed his career as a singles artist. It is said to have alienated him from hard rocking males and made him appear ‘gay.’ Unfortunately, this was more down to the narrow minded attitudes of people in 80’s Reagan America than anything else. For me, video or not, I will always like “Rock Me Tonight.”

Track Listing:

  1. All Night Long
  2. Rock Me Tonight
  3. Eyes On You
  4. Take a Look Behind Ya
  5. Reach for the Sky
  6. (Another) 1984
  7. Fall For Love
  8. Can’t Get Next to You
  9. Hand Me Downs
  10. Sweet Release

Billy Squier

Billy Squier- lead vocals, guitars, synthesizers

Jeff Goulb- guitar, slide guitar

Alan St John-keyboards, synthesizers

Doug Lubahn- bass, backing vocals

Bobby Chouinard- drums

Brian May- guitar solo on (Another) 1984

I’ll let you watch the video for “Rock Me Tonight” and make up your own mind.

When I wrote “Rock And Roll Children,” I did so with the intention of showing how narrow minded and intolerant people were back in 80s Reagan America, especially towards metal and metalheads. The fact that everyone stopped taking Billy Squier seriously on account of one video proves my point. People seem to forget that he made three great albums and “Signs of Life” just happened to be one of them.

Next post: Iron Maiden- Powerslave

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html