Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lost Gem of the 80s #5: Billy Squier - "Don't Say No" (1981)

OK, so I'm using the term "lost" loosely here, since Don't Say No has sold a few million copies and continues to sell pretty well considering the enduring appeal of hits like "The Stroke", "In The Dark" and "Lonely Is The Night". What's lost is not the album, but the artist.

Billy Squier flat out rocks. All the bombast and wail of Led Zeppelin, but with the pop mentality of Journey or Def Leppard, Squier continues to be a misunderstood and under appreciated artist. There are many reasons for that. First, he hasn't released an album in 10 years, and he hasn't released one anyone cared about in closer to 25, making him somewhat of a mystery. Secondly, he put out this career demolishing video for 1984's "Rock Me Tonight" and alienated the majority of his fans. There had always been something not right about Billy. He seemed a little gay or asexual for a guy in the hard rock world and that video put people over the edge. He never recovered.

But, he also never recovered because his music was never as good. Now, less confused fans would have probably been more forgiving if not for the weird "is-he-gay-or-not" thing. Btw, I've been researching the answer to that and there's a lot of speculation out there that he is, but more evidence that he is not. Apparently, he got married recently, not that that is always the final word (Ted Haggard), but it helps.

So, consider Don't Say No not just his masterpiece, but also one of the legendary releases of the early 80s FM rock era. Every beat drives and every chord thrives. Aside from the almost unlistenable slow jam, "Nobody Knows", Don't Say No can walk proudly alongside the best Zeppelin had to offer and hasn't lost a single ounce of credibility in the 27 years since its release. Now, if we could just get Billy to find his mojo again. Last I saw, he was playing in Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band about 2 years ago. Not exactly the most prestigious gig in the world (Richard Marx was also in that iteration of Ringo's band, if that tells you anything).

Come back Billy. We won't say no.

The Nugget: "In The Dark". It remains a blood pumping hit and hasn't reached the overplayed status that "The Stroke" has.

1 comment:

Laurie, the girls & Scott said...

the stroke has always been a favorite song. I am so glad that Will Ferrill brought it back for the younger generation.