Friday, July 4, 2014

Billy Squier - Signs of Life

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Signs of Life, the fourth studio album from Billy Squier. It was co-produced by Squier and Jim Steinman. The album spent twenty-nine weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 11.

Side one opens ominously with "All Night Long" before quickly turning into a rousing rock number about looking having a good time. As the second single, it stalled at 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100 but soared to number 10 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. It has a strong guitar hook with wild synths.

"Rock Me Tonight", the first single, hit number 31 in Canada, number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. I like when it goes from the simple, finger-snap keyboard opening into the tumbling percussion of the second verse and then chorus.

The final single "Eye on You" reached number 71 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 29 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. Here, a guy is staying on guard for suspicious behavior. Of the three singles, this one made the least impression on me - both back in the day and today.

Next up is "Take a Look Behind Ya", a song about watching your back.

"Reach for the Sky" advises to go for you dreams.

Side two begins with "(Another) 1984", which creatively avoids any of the Orwellian novel's symbolism. The track features Queen's Brian May on the guitar solo, and additional vocals from Alfa Anderson.

"Fall For Love" has spoken-word portions which reminds me a little of Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone". For me, the only real excitement in the song comes during the instrumental bridge near the end.

The B-side to the first single was "Can't Get Next to You". Again, I find the music more enjoyable than the simple, straight-forward lyrics.

"Hand-Me-Downs" starts to save the second side for me. Up this to this point, I was getting a little bored.

Things close with the reflective and spiritual "Sweet Release".

Most of Signs of Life stayed off my music radar for thirty years. I really was only familiar with "Rock Me Tonight", thanks to radio airplay and MTV video rotation. This is one of those records that would take me a few listens to warm up to; I will likely revisit it on Spotify at some point down the road.

For more Billy Squier posts on the blog, click here

No comments: