Rock City Nights (Vertigo / Polygram TV, 1989)

Rock City Nights

Rock City Nights r

Review
Vertigo and Polygram TV released a follow up to Hot City Nights during the autumn of 1989. Once again, it relied on television advertising to push sales with the futuristic urban theme repeated on the front cover. In this instance, we get 18 tracks (two more) while the CD booklet contains adverts for its predecessor and The Marquee – 30 Legendary Years.

“Take the heat once more.”
Four artists are repeated on this second volume – Queen, Big Country, Marillion, INXS. The opening song on A Kind Of Magic sets the scene, One Vision in single edit form. And then Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name, the first track I heard from them, taken from the enormously successful Slippery When Wet – a school music library favourite. Read more about those days in my review of The Chart Show – Rock The Nation. All hail Mark Shaw and Then Jerico; Big Area had that immense vibe; a bittersweet epic. It entered the UK charts around the time of my 17th birthday. “This sounds like an album track. It’s stronger than their old stuff but it’s just not a single.” said Mica Paris when reviewing Big Country’s King Of Emotion for Number One magazine. She had a point; at 4:50 the rocking lead 45 from Peace In Our Time was screaming out for some form of pruning.

The In The Army Now album was not held in high regard by Rick Parfitt. Disappointingly Red Sky was not remixed or extended for its single release but remains a thrilling slice of efficient rock boogie. It’s followed by Fish on his final furlong, the aggressive/progressive Incommunicado, first fruits from the awesome Clutching At Straws. Now it’s an enduring memory from a tape I aired in Art class coming up to the Inter Cert. Right Here Waiting was a huge hit around the time Rock City Nights emerged but it’s the previous single, Satisfied that’s here. This edgy and anthemic tune reached #52 in the UK but topped the US charts. You’ll remember the next one from National Lampoon’s European Vacation, the Power Station’s Some Like It Hot which really works in these surroundings, fuelled by Tony Thompson’s insane drumming. 1985 was really the year of side project heaven.

The Final Countdown was such a massive hit for Europe, all over Europe, that no matter what followed, it would be perceived as an anti-climax. Rock The Night doesn’t disappoint and became a favourite anthem for some of the boarders in my school. Next come INXS with the impossibly brilliant Need You Tonight – burning up discos for 18 months – and the moody driving delight from Texas, I Don’t Want A Lover. I clearly remember seeing the billboards for Southside that March. The album cover art was derived from the poster for the film Paris, Texas, which inspired the band’s name. From Don’t to Won’t: Tom Petty’s spectacularly defiant I Won’t Back Down was curiously absent from 1989’s canon chart compilations but finds a home here. “There ain’t no easy way out.” And while The Living Years was breaking our hearts earlier in the year, it’s a gold oldie from 1985 that follows – Silent Running. You could call it a synth masterpiece from the old testament.

The closing five numbers of Rock City Nights all hark back to an earlier age. Toto’s Africa peaked in the early spring of 1983 while Boston’s classic rock staple, More Than A Feeling, dates from 1976. “All the planets were aligned when they created this song.” reminisces Fi Handley. We get the longer Boston LP cut; still it goes straight to the heart. From 1977’s Rumours, Fleetwood Mac’s album-in-every-home-a-heartache comes the blitzing Go Your Own Way. The ultimate goodbye song, you can hear shattered dreams in every note. Fast forward four years to early 1981 and it’s a hazy sound of Mount Garrett AKA the top road as I walk home from school. Rainbow’s I Surrender, played loudly by Douglas Walsh or Gordon Boucher. Finally, I’m taken back to the Ritz cinema and their packed showing of Rocky III as Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger brings the curtain down on a fine compilation.

Favourite tracks
Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

The Power Station – Some Like It Hot

Lest we forget
Status Quo – Red Sky

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