Saturday, October 12, 2013

Survivor - Caught in the Game

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Caught in the Game, the fourth studio album from Survivor. Following on the heels of Eye of the Tiger (click here for that review), this 1983 release from the band only climbed as high as number 82 on the US Billboard Album charts. It was also the last album from the 80’s for the group that featured Dave Bickler as lead singer (he would return to the line-up in 1993).

The record featured some guest backing vocals from Richard Page (of Mr. Mister) and Kevin Cronin (from REO Speedwagon).

Side one opens with the title track. As the first single, “Caught in the Game” peaked at number 77 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 16 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. It has a strong rocking sound, fueled by Frankie Sullivan’s guitar playing.

“Jackie Don’t Go” opens with the tense keyboards of Jim Peterik. In the lyrics, a guy pleads with his girlfriend not to leave him.

“I Never Stopped Loving You”, the second single, fell short of the US Billboard Hot 100; it stalled at number 104. This ballad has that classic early 80’s slow dance sound, complete with pretty piano and heartfelt vocals.

Things pick back up with the rocking rhythm of “It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way”.

The mid-tempo “Ready For the Real Thing”, the B-side to the second single, closes out the first half of the disk. Here, a guy comes to the realization that he has finally matured and is ready for a true commitment.

Side two starts with “Half-Life”. Besides another Sullivan guitar solo, this one did not do a lot for me. Not a good way to start off a side.

“What Do You Really Think” is up next. I was hoping for a bit more oomph after the last track, but I did not find it here either.

“Slander” opens with a very “Stroke”-like Billy Squier kind of grind, however it does not ignite in the way I had hoped. The instrumental solos in the latter half are welcome at this point.

“Santa Ana Winds”, the B-side to the first single, brings the record to a softer, sweeping six-and-a-half minute close.

After a listen to Caught in the Game, I can see why this one was not as much of commercial success as the previous album. Coming off the biggest hit of their career, Survivor definitely sounded like they were struggling to hit that benchmark again. Sometimes though you just can’t recapture the lightning in the bottle.

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