Loverboy - Wildside

edited July 3 in year-1987

ARTIST: Loverboy
ALBUM: Wildside
SERIAL: C-40893 (LP), CK 40893 (CD)
YEAR: 1987

LINEUP: Mike Reno - lead vocals * Paul Dean - guitar * Scott Smith - bass * Doug Johnson - keyboards * Matt Frenette - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Notorious * 02 Walkin' On Fire * 03 Break It To Me Gently * 04 Love Will Rise Again * 05 Can't Get Much Better * 06 Hometown Hero * 07 Wildside * 08 Don't Let Go * 09 That's Where My Money Goes * 10 Read My Lips * 11 Don't Keep Me In The Dark (bonus)



Loverboy had enjoyed a stellar career in the first half of the 1980's, with four albums that had gone at least double platinum in the U.S. and even better in their native Canada. Several singles had done very well in the charts, and two of them ('Turn Me Loose' and 'Working For The Weekend') were well on their way to becoming classic songs of the 80's.

Their fourth album, 1985's 'Lovin' Every Minute Of It' had spawned two U.S. Top Ten singles. And they scored another major hit in 1986 with 'Heaven In Your Eyes' from the 'Top Gun' soundtrack. They might not have been quite as hot as they were a few years earlier, but they were definitely still a major player in the music scene of the U.S. and Canada.

'Lovin' Every Minute Of It' had been the first album not produced by Bruce Fairbairn (Tom Allom produced it), but the overall results were not as different as one might have expected considering that Allom was better known for his work with Judas Priest and other harder acts.

Fairbairn was back at the helm in 1987 for album number five, with expectations of continuing the success of the previous albums.

The Songs

Loverboy had increasingly been relying on outside writers over their career. I'm not sure why, though. The songs on the first three albums had been primarily written by the band members with limited outside help.

The fourth album had more names in the songwriting credits, and this one even more. Paul Dean is the name most frequently seen as a writer. This may explain the direction from more of a new-wave flavor to more of a rock / AOR sound. I personally thought the albums contained more strong songs with each new release, so I was fine with this. But this might have been the commercial downfall of this album.

Lead off track 'Notorious' was a reasonable hit, but it did not reach the chart heights of many of their earlier hits. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora contributed to that song, and it was clearly the best choice to get airplay. Not that it was necessarily the best song on the album though.

'Walkin' On Fire', 'Break It To Me Gently' and 'Love Will Rise Again' are all very strong AOR songs with the trademark interplay between Dean's guitar and the keys of Doug Johnson. Johnson's keyboard work is much less like his earlier new-wave leanings and more typical rock style. The last two of that trio were released as singles, but did not make any substantial impact in the charts.

The first two tracks of the album also feature some harmonica to nice effect. 'Can't Get Much Better' is a slower, more anthemic song that is another winner. If you had this album on cassette or LP, that concludes side one.

I sense somewhat of a let-down starting on side 2. 'Hometown Hero' is a pretty good tune, a bit on the breezy side. Fellow Canadian Bryan Adams helped with the songwriting on it.

Of these first six songs, all but the third one have Todd Cerney as a songwriting contributor. Title cut 'Wildside' never did much for me. It's a mid-tempo tune that, while performed earnestly, doesn't quite reach the mark. 'Don't Let Go' is much better and approaches the level of the first part of the album, a nice energetic piece.

'That's Where My Money Goes' is a tune that I believe should have been the second single. The other tunes, while very enjoyable, could be considered a little generic by some. But this one is catchy and might have stood out a little better on the airwaves.

'Read My Lips' is reminiscent of 'Meltdown' from 'Keep It Up' and another very nice track. If you got the LP or cassette, you got screwed - the reward for buying the CD is what I consider the best track on here - 'Don't Leave Me In The Dark'. This is a power ballad extraordinaire. I consider it better than 'This Could Be The Night', their big hit from 'Lovin' Every Minute Of It'.

The main difference is that the latter is a positive song destined for slow dancing at high school dances and making out in basements, whereas the former is a desperate plea to keep a lover from leaving. Judging from other comments I've seen, it's a favourite song for many Loverboy fans.

In Summary

After four albums that sold several million each, sales of 'only' one million had to be a big disappointment. The album did go gold in both the U.S. and Canada. But it contained only one hit, and 'Notorious' is the only song from this album that you'll find on any of their greatest hits albums. I wonder whether including 'Heaven In Your Eyes' on this album would have improved its success. I'm not sure whether that was ever even an option, though.

Looking at it 26 years after the fact, this album seems to be designed more for the AOR fan than for those who liked their poppier material. The changing musical landscape also had a huge effect, as the careers of other legends like Foreigner, Survivor and Journey were not what they were just a few years earlier. But this is my favourite of their albums, sounding as good to me now as it did in 1987.

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