Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Huey Lewis & The News have never been “cool” but they’ve always been awesome, and during their ’80s heyday they were immensely popular, racking up more than a dozen Top 10 hit singles and a handful of Platinum & Multi-Platinum albums. Hipsters always thought they were square (in spite of the fact that it’s actually hip to be so), and they were too “pop” for rock fans, but I’m a rock fan & I’ve made no secret of my love for Huey Lewis & The News. I first mentioned it in my No Guilt, Just Pleasure post in 2015, and their fourth album was featured a year later in my Thirty Year Thursday series. They formed from the ashes of Clover, who backed Elvis Costello on his debut album and also appeared in my Forty Year Friday series. Their eponymous 1980 debut is usually overlooked, even by many HLN fans, but all the elements that made them superstars a few years later…catchy melodies, tight harmonies, great musicianship and Huey’s inimitable vocals…are on full display.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 5:
Huey Lewis & his group of musical cohorts have never gotten the respect they deserve, possibly because of their meteoric rise with third album Sports, the good-natured vibe of their music & videos and Huey’s “everyman” quality. Sure, they’ve never been “cool” or “edgy,” key components for critics & music snobs, but they’re all world-class musicians, songwriters & arrangers (and, after this debut album, they produced their own records) and Huey Lewis is as strong a singer & frontman as anyone from their era or beyond. The hit singles would start showing up on their next album, but most of the elements that made them so popular a few years later were already on display. “Trouble In Paradise” is likely the best-known song here thanks to a live version that appeared on the U.S.A. For Africa We Are The World album in 1985. Throughout the record they combine elements of doo-wop, classic rock ‘n’ roll and soul/R&B with a then-current new wave sensibility, driving rhythms and herky-jerky arrangements. They were likely too modern for traditionalists and too traditional for youngsters, stranding them in no-man’s land in spite of winners like “Some Of My Lies Are True (Sooner Or Later),” “Don’t Ever Tell Me That You Love Me,” “Don’t Make Me Do It,” “Stop Trying” and “If You Really Love Me You’ll Let Me.” I know I won’t convince skeptics or haters to give Huey & the boys a chance, but if you like their later material and never heard anything prior to Sports consider this a hearty recommendation for their debut and its follow up, Picture This.
If you’re a fellow Huey Lewis & The News fan, were you already familiar with this album? If so, do you like it as much as the ones that followed? Even if you’ve always dismissed them based on their ubiquitous ’80s radio hits, maybe you’ll find something to like here. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this record. I know I can’t be the only one who loves it.