Stylus Music released a follow up to Soft Metal: It Ain’t Heavy during the late summer months of 1989. Once again, it relied on television advertising to push sales with the rose motif repeated on the front cover. In this instance, the CD booklet featuring “18 Classic Rock Hits” had full colour photographs of Bryan Adams, Then Jerico, Gary Moore, John Farnham, Mr Mister, Robert Palmer, INXS, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
Five artists are repeated on this second volume – Meat Loaf, REO Speedwagon, Starship, Marillion, Ozzy Osbourne. There’s crossover with their Polygram TV rival Hot City Nights on Magnum’s Start Calling Love and Marillion’s Lavender – albeit it’s the shorter album version here. Begin the begin: it’s Bryan Adams and his cheating classic, Run To You, a classic study of infidelity. Parent album Reckless was single-heavy: side 1, tracks 3, 4 and 5 were singles while side 2, tracks 1, 2 and 3 were singles. So on the CD pressing, the six singles appear in a row. Other albums frontloaded with singles:
Def Leppard – Hysteria. All of side 1 (six tracks).
Fleetwood Mac – Tango In The Night. Side 1 starts with three while the second half kicks off with two more and another later on.
Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA. Kicks off with a pair of 45s and then the last four tracks on side 2 were all released as singles. And the closer on side 1.
Pet Shop Boys – Please. OK, Two Divided By Zero wasn’t. But the next four tracks were.
Michael Jackson – Bad. Eight singles out of 10 tracks. Nine if you include Leave Me Alone.
Bad is my favourite Michael Jackson album. I bought the CD and LP on the day of release, 31 August 1987. On the same day I also started a supermarket job which was taken on for the sole purpose of earning money to buy records. It was supposed to be 21 hours a week max – as I was still in school – but I frequently used to do 30+ (after school every day, late opening Thursday and Friday, all day Saturday etc). They used to play the radio over the tannoy system as well as compilations of chart hits – so many songs from that period are ingrained in my mind and associated with sweeping the floor, collecting trolleys, pulling pallets of Parazone, Pedigree Chum, Bran Buds etc. As the months went on the CD was repressed with different versions of certain tracks i.e.
The Way You Make Me Feel = vocal fade out added
Smooth Criminal = heavy breathing taken off on the intro
and the single versions of the following three were added:
Bad = which has fewer trumpets throughout first half of the song
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You = which is minus the spoken introduction
Dirty Diana = which was edited early before the final crowd screams
I saw him play in Cork, 30 July 1988. Kim Wilde supporting. Drank lots of Coca-Cola.
Then Jerico’s fourth single, The Motive, was their breakthrough after lowly chart positions for Muscle Deep (85), Let Her Fall (65) and Prairie Rose (89). The time was July 1987 and our family holiday took us to Lahinch for the first time. I remember playing the fruit machines on the seafront and winning what looked like a fortune (around £60 in 10p coins). Hearing The Motive’s soaring soft rock reminds me of those happy times. There’s the heart and soul of 80s AOR on Mr Mister’s unforgettable Broken Wings. All elements of an epic power ballad are present and correct. You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth was Meat Loaf’s first solo single and is the end result of his desire for Jim Steinman to write him a “pop song” rather than an epic. We get the 7″ mix without the spoken intro. “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”
Gary Moore’s Empty Rooms was originally recorded for his 1983 LP, Victims Of The Future which he later dismissed as “just one of my feeble attempts at heavy rock.” The song resurfaced as a single during August 1984, peaking at #51.
“Brand new version
with picture bag”
And then the Summer 1985 Version, courtesy of James Barton and engineered by Phil Harding. Another tune from a vinyl-only compilation – Now That’s What I Call Music 6 – that’s captured on CD here. A heartbreaking performance from Moore that comes with a brilliant melody and a killer solo. “Empty rooms, where we learn to live without love.”
Stuck in the middle with you: following the intense self-loathing of Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, there’s REO Speedwagon’s eternal prom night standard Keep On Loving You. On 1 August 1981, the music video of the song was the 17th played on the first day of broadcast of MTV. Meanwhile INXS’ super hot ballad Never Tear Us Apart remains immortalised forever on our wedding video. Kirk Pengilly drops an amazing saxophone solo towards the end. After his death in 1997, Michael Hutchence’s coffin was carried out of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral by the remaining members of INXS and younger brother Rhett as Never Tear Us Apart was played in the background. The video version of the track (see below) has an extended intro and was shot in Prague along with New Sensation and Guns In The Sky.
For the compilation’s final third there a few semi-obscure tunes. Ozzy Osbourne’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebel wasn’t even released as a single. Presumably the Bark At The Moon tune was chosen for its epic solo. Next are Rainbow with their hard-rock-for-the-ages cover of Since You Been Gone followed by Anthrax’s effective take on Alice Cooper’s I’m Eighteen – also another album track. On Jive, Mammoth’s generic Journey rip-off All The Days. The ship is steered back to more familiar waters for the closing two numbers – Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart (the 5:32 music video version) and John Farnham’s You’re The Voice. “It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in the dark..”
Bryan Adams – Run To You
Gary Moore – Empty Rooms (Summer 1985 Version)
Lest we forget
Then Jerico – The Motive