Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986]
Artist: HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS
It’s no secret that I’ve loved the music of Huey Lewis And The News for a long time, and they’ve been featured twice here at KamerTunesBlog: in my No Guilt, Just Pleasure post and in the Great Out Of The Gate series about my favorite debut albums. In those posts I’ve said things like: “Huey Lewis is as strong a singer & frontman as anyone from their era or beyond” with a voice that’s “somehow rough-as-sandpaper and smooth-as-honey at the same time,” “they have to be one of the best vocal bands of their (or any) era” and “they’re all world-class musicians, songwriters & arrangers.” Clearly I’m an unapologetic fan. I’ve always felt they haven’t received the recognition they deserve from critics & musical tastemakers, but that doesn’t matter to their dedicated legion of fans. Even hard rockers who have dismissed them are probably unaware of Huey’s connection to Thin Lizzy, having appeared on their legendary Live And Dangerous LP. He was also a longtime friend of Thin Lizzy singer/bassist/songwriter Phil Lynott, dating back to Huey’s previous band Clover.
Following up their 1983 breakthrough, the multiplatinum Sports, was never going to be an easy task, so they waited three years before unleashing their fourth album, the cleverly titled Fore. Like its predecessor, Fore topped the charts and contained multiple Top 10 hits. The bouncy pop nugget “Stuck With You” was the perfect choice for lead-off single and went straight to #1, while its follow-up, “Hip To Be Square,” was nearly as successful. The former is a perfect late-summer song, augmented by a memorable promo video that could only have been successful in the ‘80s, while the latter is just plain goofy fun. They’re also examples of why the band may not be taken seriously, but since when did music have to be serious to be good? Bruce Hornsby & his brother John co-wrote album opener “Jacob’s Ladder,” a melodic rocker with lyrics critical of TV evangelists that also topped the charts. Hornsby recorded his own version two years later. “Whole Lotta Lovin’” never fails to make me smile, as Huey eagerly (and humorously) awaits his lover’s return: “Late last night I read the letter you sent, woke up this morning under a tent.” The Tower Of Power horn section shines on several tracks, including the aforementioned “Hip To Be Square,” album closer “Simple As That” and the last Top 10 single from the album, “Doin’ It All For My Baby.” I was fortunate to perform that song with my college band and our 5-piece horn section and it’s long been a personal favorite. The horn chart, rhythm section and Huey’s voice are all spectacular. “Forest For The Trees” is uplifting & inspirational without being cloying, while the a capella nugget “Naturally” is undisputed evidence of the band’s vocal prowess. The only thing that could have improved this album was the inclusion of “The Power Of Love” from the previous year’s Back To The Future movie & soundtrack. Some later CD reissues did just that, even inserting it into the middle of the record. Huey Lewis And The News might be forever tied to the ‘80s in the eyes of many fans but, to my ears, their music is timeless and I can’t believe 30 years have gone by since I bought Fore on the day it was released.
Here’s a live medley of “Whole Lotta Lovin’” and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” from 1989, followed by a couple of my favorite songs from the album, including the extended Frankenstein-inspired video for “Doin’ It All For My Baby.” Skip to 3:38 if you just want to hear the music.