Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tommy Shaw - Girls With Guns

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Girls With Guns, the debut solo album from Styx guitarist/singer Tommy Shaw. It spent twenty-five weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 50.

Side one starts with the high octane title track. “Girls With Guns”, the first single, hit number 33 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 6 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. It also was used for a first season episode of Miami Vice. I remember this one mostly from hearing it on the album-oriented rock stations back in 1984; it has a very catchy chorus that sticks with you well after the song is done.

“Come In and Explain” opens with an ominous guitar riff and tolling percussion. It instantly makes me think of someone being interrogated under a hot, bright lamp. It was chosen as the B-side to the second single.

“Lonely School” was released as, the second single. This break-up ballad about admitting one’s mistakes stalled at number 60 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

The B-side to the first single was “Heads Up”, a mid-tempo warning that I found lacked any real urgency to it.

“Kiss Me Hello” is one of two tracks that came in a longer format on cassette and CD; the vinyl version is two minutes shorter. I suspect they were cut on the vinyl due to limitations of that release format. The track has a big dramatic feel to it, setting a very distinct backdrop for this lovers’ rendezvous. The piano solo bridge by Peter Wood is quite lovely.

Side two opens with “Fading Away”, a mid-tempo tune about lying in the bed you’ve made for yourself.

“Little Girl World” opens with an acoustic riff that serves as the foundation to the rest of the tune when the rest of the band joins Shaw.

The other shortened song on vinyl was “Outside in the Rain”; there is a difference of about a minute and a half between versions. British sessions singer Carol Kenyon is featured on this track.

The third single was “Free to Love You”; it failed to make any major waves on the charts.

The album closes with “The Race is On”. It features the saxophone playing of Richie Cannata and Molly Duncan right out of the gate.

This was my first spin through Girls With Guns. I knew Tommy Shaw from his time with Styx and I was okay with what he put forth on this first album with his name up front. Outside of the title track, the rest pretty much fits into the middle-of-the-road rock of the time.

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