Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Power Station - The Power Station

Today (March 25th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the self-titled album debut from the Power Station. This one spent forty-four weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 6. It also reached number 38 in Sweden, number 16 in Switzerland, and number 12 in the UK.

This super-group was made up of Robert Palmer (vocals), Andy Taylor (guitar) and John Taylor (bass) from Duran Duran, and Tony Thompson (drums) from Chic. They got their name from the recording studio where they conceived the record. The project started with the Taylors and Thompson with the idea of having different singers on each track. Some approached included Mick Jagger, Billy Idol, and Richard Butler (of the Psychedelic Furs). When Palmer came in to record vocals on one track, he tried out another as well. Before long, the group decided he should be the singer on all tracks.

Side one starts with the sizzling "Some Like It Hot". As the lead single, it went to number 34 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, number 17 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 16 in Germany, number 14 in the UK, number 13 in Switzerland, number 10 in Austria, number 9 in the Netherlands, number 6 in Belgium and on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 4 in Canada. The punctuated interplay between the bass, the beat and the horns here is classic; together they really got the dance floors charged up back in the day. Even today, this song gets me pumped up.

"Murderess" was the B-side to the third single. It has a similar yet slower foundation rhythm to "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" which comes later on the record, but it is also has a different, lighter layer above it.

"Lonely Tonight" slows things down slightly with a smooth swaying rhythm and a tale of two lonely ships passing in the night.

The third single was "Communication" which stalled at number 75 in the UK and number 34 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It has probably been close to thirty years since I've heard this song; it truly is a lost hit of the 80's. This song, whose lyrics emphasize a key element of any good relationship, has a good beat and funky bass line.

Side two begins with "Get It On (Bang a Gong)", the cover of the 1972 classic T-Rex rocker. The Power Station version, as the second single, hit number 37 in Germany, number 22 in the UK, number 19 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100. I remember this one being a big hit at campus parties and out in the clubs I frequented in college. It has a ton of energy, and the dance remixes were finely tuned to get the crowds moving and shaking.

The B-side to the second single was "Go to Zero", a mid-tempo tune with a strong horn section accompaniment. The lyrics talk about having to start over again from scratch.

"Harvest for the World" is a cover of the 1976 Isley Brothers' hit. The band puts a nice spin on the decade old song, making it over with a mid-80's sound.

The original album closes with "Still in Your Heart", a soul-wrenching look at lingering love.

The 2005 CD re-release include bonus tracks like "The Heat Is On", the B-side variant of "Some Like It Hot", and dance remixes of the three big hits.

Due to conflicts, the band folded in late 1985, but the original four reunited for a ten year reunion. The result was their 1996 follow-up album Living In Fear, on which Bernard Edwards (from Chic) filled in as bassist in John Taylor's departure. Before the group could tour, Edwards passed away from pneumonia. Both Palmer and Thompson died in late 2003, just two months apart.

Even though I was a big fan of Duran Duran and Chic, I did not pick up The Power Station on vinyl back in the day. This review was really my first time hearing all of the tracks on the album. I found that I definitely would have liked this one quite a lot back in 1985; the fusion of rock and funk works very well throughout.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I'm probably in the minority, but I didn't care for Some Like It Hot. However, the covers on this album are first rate. After hearing the album once, I fully expected the big single to be Harvest for the World.