Sound: Ah yes, I'm back, reviewing more 80's stuff that probably some others scratch their head and go... "Why Mad-Mike?", well, I'm here to review one of my favorite bands... The Canadian band Loverboy. Loverboy formed in 1979 with the former members of Streetheart (Paul Dean, Guitar... Who's sig model I reviewed, and Matt Frenette, the drummer), Moxy (Mike Rynoski, better known as Mike Reno, Vox), Foster Child (Doug Johnson), and Scott Smith whom I'm not sure who he was jamming with before Loverboy.
While Loverboy is all these guys, Paul Dean is the formative member. Paul had been rockin' since the 60's, and he shopped around 30 labels for Loverboy before they finally got their deal with CBS/Columbia records in 1980. The result of which is this record. Before Loverboy, he created and was in Streetheart, another band I plan to review in the future (which he was kicked out of by the management).
Stylically, Loverboy has two styles, straight ahead New Wave ("The Kid Is Hot Tonight", "Always On My Mind", "Lady Of The 80's", "Little Girl", "D.O.A."), and minimalist power-quasi-disco-funk ("Turn Me Loose", "Prissy Prissy"), and then they have the occasional one off, in this case, it's "It Don't Matter", which starts out a sort of minor key rock piece, which turns into an impromptu Jazz jam at the end as it fades out.
The album pretty much is a classic 1980 album, still 70's enough to feel organic, but 80's enough to be of it's time. Just enough bright lights and big colors sound-wise, but a lot of dirt, meat, and potatoes to keep it human. // 8
Lyrics: Loverboy is not a band for deep thoughts. They (and their co-writers) write it like it is, and tell it like it is... Usually. Most of their music is about parties, sex, girls, sex, heartbreak, riches, and sex... Or is it now... The first Loverboy album is possibly the darkest album they made, it almost sounds like a soundtrack to something like "The Last American Virgin" or "Losin' It". They don't even get this dark until we get to "Wildside", which is a whole other kind of dark.
"The Kid Is Hot Tonight" is Irony before the bespectacled Jazzmaster playing Cardigan clad Indie kids ever walked the earth. Oh, it seems happy and spirited, but the chorus says it all "The kid is hot tonight, but where will he be tomorrow?". They are, of course, talking about fame, you get your 15 minutes, but it never lasts.
"Turn Me Loose" is all about getting free of a bad situation, and "makin' love" and "fly(ing)" are symbolic of that freedom. Maybe not as deep as some, but there is a message to be had.
"Always On My Mind", "Little Girl", and "Lady Of The 80's", are more in the typical Loverboy vain. "Always On My Mind" is about reminiscing high school loves, while "Lady Of The 80's" is the mindless fun, and "Little Girl" is the only Anti-Jailbait anthem I've ever heard (you're too little little girl... To fall in love).
"Prissy Prissy" is in the "Turn Me Loose" vein in that it shows how much Loverboy loves their chromatic scales, but is not as deep in that it is their soon to be typical "Friday night at the bar" atmosphere, as Reno sings about his subject of affection who will give it up to anyone but him.
"Teenage Overdose" - "It's a song about revenge" said Paul Dean in an interview, however, I'm still trying to figure out what, it sounds like it's more their version of "Gonna' Raise Hell". The guitar riff is killer stuff though, in the vein of Dean's Streetheart days.
"D.O.A." - OH DEAR GOD! Worst lyrics ever... It seems someone was struggling to rhyme here. I think I heard somewhere that this was their first song. Reno always said at concerts it was about some people who like to party so hard they never make it home, to me it sounds like a fictional story about a girl who lived on "Ozone Way" who "wound up D.O.A." and left the crooner poor as he "spental all my money on her luxuries" because he "guesses he heeds a bigger salary", and he keeps a "picture in his gallery"... YIKES!... What saves this song is the pretty sweet pure thick early 80's New Wave feel, for those like me who can ignore the lyrics and listen to the music.
"It Don't Matter" closes the album, dark, moody, all about a man leaving his woman for god knows what reason. Loverboy would never close an album this darkly until "Wildside" in 1987.
Aside from the lyrics, Reno is a phenomenal singer, then, and even now, even now (though tuned down half a step), Reno STILL hits that high note in "Turn Me Loose". Reno is unique in that, like a guitarist, you can instantly know it's Mike Reno at the microphone, unlike some singers who can change their voice so much you dunno who's singing. // 6
Overall Impression: Loverboy's first album overall proves that an album can be worth more than the sum of all it's parts. I give it a 9, for while the lyrics may not always be the deepest, the hooks will bite you, Dean is highly underrated as a guitarist, and Reno is in my opinion, one of the best singers of the 80's.
Some great standouts aside from the hits are "Always On My Mind" with it's killer intro and excellent use of delay on the voice, "Prissy Prissy" crossing funk with near-metal, "Teenage Overdose" with the meanest single coil Strat sound I've ever heard since early Sabbath (yes, Iommi used at strat early on), and a wide range of musical skills from the punkiness of "Little Girl" to the jazziness of "It Don't Matter".
Either way... Get your hands off my Loverboy album, and get your own. It's a good one, and forget the naysayers, for they know not what secrets the little Canadian rock band hides. // 9