Faithful readers of this blog have frequently read about my high school friend Jim, who turned me on to a lot of great music that I probably wouldn't have heard otherwise. A few months ago, this CD showed up in my mailbox with a note that read, in part:
I always thought this was the best album of the 80s, so you should have a copy. Enjoy. From JimIn my little corner of the world, that's high praise indeed. I vaguely remember the lead single, Welcome To The Boomtown, from radio play in '86, but had never heard the album. However, since the album was a "critic's darling" I read plenty about it. But the reviews always focused on lyrics (e.g., the review in Rolling Stone 484 devotes only one sentence to music) and y'all know I rarely pay much attention to the lyrics of songs. But since this album was gift from Jim, and he obviously loves it, I decided to put forth a conscious effort to closely consider the lyrics and put musical considerations on the back burner.
In 1986, I watched a lot of Moonlighting and L.A. Law and often envisioned myself living a freewheeling lifestyle in Southern California like that enjoyed by Arnie Becker and Maddie Hayes. In fact, I openly aspired to be a materialistic yuppie (48 year old Mark would like to beat some sense into 20 year old Mark if it was possible). So my first listen to the song Welcome To The Boomtown went something like this:
Lyrics: Ms. Christina drives a 944/satisfaction oozes from her poresAnd a variation on the above pattern would repeat itself throughout the album. But something happened as I gave these depressing narratives repeated listenings: I started to like the tunes.
My thoughts: Porsche! Suh-weet! I bet she's a blonde.
She keeps rings on her fingers/marble on the floor
This woman knows how to live! She needs to meet me.
Cocaine in her dresser/bars on the doors
Errr, I'm not liking that as much.
She keeps her back against the wall
Uh-oh. Why?? What's going on here?
Pick a habit/we got plenty to go around
Well, that certainly turned quickly.
The ambulance arrived too late/I guess she didn't want to wait
Released a few years later, this might have sold better, but in the over-produced synth and LinnDrum sounds of 1986, there wasn't anything else like it so promoters probably didn't know how to push it. The AOR songs are polished and played well; whichever David has the low baritone vocals has an interesting voice that seems suited to the lyrics. I'm getting to where I like it and, to be honest, I would like it more if I had been familiar with it back in '86. It probably won't crack my imaginary list of top albums of the '80s, Jim, but I can see why you like it.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #39
Tracks: Since I like to stick my head in the sand and deny the greed, drugs, and excesses that have come to symbolize the '80s, I prefer the relatively uplifting songs such as Ain't It Easy and Swimming In The Ocean while skipping the depressing All Alone In The Big City and earnest River's Gonna Rise. Musically, the songs on the first half of the disc are stronger than what was side two although it ends strongly with Heroes.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Thanks for the gift, Jim.