Soft Metal: It Ain’t Heavy (Stylus Music, 1988)

Soft Metal

Soft Metal r

Stylus Music was quite a diverse label. 1988 saw them unleash several hip hop and dance compilations before dropping this one – Soft Metal: It Ain’t Heavy – late in the year. It was advertised extensively on television while its romantic theme was signalled by a single red rose on the sleeve with a similarly coloured tagline “18 hits from the giants of rock”

Coming at you in crystal-clear hi fidelity digital sound: we kick off with three massive numbers that have featured on these pages several times. Heart – Alone, Marillion – Kayleigh, Whitesnake – Here I Go Again. One particularly memory of Alone is from my supermarket job. When the shop closed, we could turn up the in-house PA system and blast the music tapes while we swept the floors and wrapped up for the night. Saxon’s Ride Like The Wind is a surprisingly effective cover of the Christopher Cross ballad and nestles nicely with Ozzy Osbourne’s Shot In The Dark. Justin Gardner remembers: “This song reminds me of warm summer nights, roaming the neighbourhood, sneaking beers, trying to get laid but never actually succeeding. I miss being a teen.” It featured on our ghettoblaster during days at the reservoir. Often followed by selections from Anthrax.

Journey released Don’t Stop Believin’ as a single in late December 1981. It wasn’t a hit. Almost 20 years before it featured in The Sopranos, Glee etc, Stylus Music decided to include it here. Its true chorus doesn’t appear until the song has entered the final minute. The structure being:
Introduction (instrumental) (0:00–0:17)
Verse 1 (0:17–0:49)
Instrumental (0:49–1:05)
Verse 2 (half-length) (1:05–1:20)
Pre-chorus 1 (1:20–1:54)
Instrumental (1:54–2:01)
Verse 3 (2:01–2:33)
Pre-chorus 2 (2:33–3:05)
Instrumental (chorus) (3:05–3:21)
Chorus until fade (3:21–4:11)
Since 2007 and in particular for the remainder of the decade, Don’t Stop Believin’ was frequently played as the last song at rural discos. In Ireland, it remaind one of the most downloaded tracks ever and was used as motivational music for the Waterford hurlers in 2008. The lost the All Ireland Final to Kilkenny, 3-30 to 1-13. An unmerciful hammering.

Another late 1981 tune was Meat Loaf’s Dead Ringer For Love. He’s got Cher in tow. An effective rocker and a popular one in school – it featured on several homemade mix tapes of the era. The parent album was the follow up to Bat Out Of Hell, which had stayed on the UK charts for 485 weeks. Next comes the medieval One Lonely Light, a haunting ballad by REO Speedwagon. The video features a knight arguing with his spouse walking around the city and meeting a wizard. Familiarity breeds contentment; the longer album version of Europe’s The Final Countdown followed by Starship’s We Built This City. I love the sound of the latter on an early summer morning. Perfect with coffee and absorbing the quietness of the emerging day. The city that rocks, the city that never sleeps. MTV executive and former DJ Les Garland provided the voice-over during the song’s bridge. And then time for another early riser anthem: It Bites’ cheery Calling All The Heroes. “Fabulous happy times song, Ford Capris, Tennants Extra and ra ra skirts. Good times.” (Elliot Evans)

The appearance of Golden Brown, The Stranglers at their most beguiling and ostensibly gentle is welcome at any time. We get right back to the modern era with Poison’s no-nonsense rocker Nothin’ But A Good Time. Mysterious times: Wasch! and Body Running Fast is only compiled here, a German rock band with an almost funk slant. The sequencing is perfect as Krokus’ menacing and somewhat brooding Screaming In The Night slides into view. The original version of Faith No More’s We Car A Lot mentions Madonna and Mr T. The superior late ’87 reboot makes amendments for “social relevance” – the video received quite a bit of MTV airplay and also aired in Club 19, downtown New Ross. Home of West Coast Cooler for discerning teens. Finally, we end with a pair of massive movie tunes – Survivor’s intense Burning Heart (Rocky IV) and the stirring drama of John Parr’s St Elmo’s Fire. Dedicated to the ultimate Man In Motion, the legendary Rick Hansen.

Favourite tracks
Faith No More – We Care A Lot

Ozzy Osbourne – Shot In The Dark

Lest we forget
Wasch! – Body Running Fast

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3 Responses to Soft Metal: It Ain’t Heavy (Stylus Music, 1988)

  1. Pingback: Precious Metal (Stylus Music, 1989) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  2. Pingback: Pure Soft Metal: It Takes Your Breath Away (Stylus Music, 1989) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  3. Pingback: The Final Countdown (Telstar, 1990) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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