Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Respecing the Greatness of Huey Lewis and the News

Thank you, Fusion 45 at WNEW.com, for writing an intelligent take on the boys from the Bay Area. Too often I feel like my love for their music and the impact that they've had on my life over the past 26 years (yep, been a fan since early 1984) is a guilty pleasure.  You know - primed for mocking.

I have to sit in a dark room to listen to it. Most of the time, people just kind of chuckle when they hear who my favorite band is. This of course is purely my perception of what people think.

Someone recently asked me if I had ever seen them live. Well, yeah...

1985 - Middletown, NY
1987 - Madison Square Garden, NYC (still #1 on favorite concerts ever)
1987 - Middletown, NY
1989 - Poughkeepsie, NY (touring as "The Sports Section)
1991 - Jones Beach, NY
1996 - Westbury, NY
1999 - Danbury, CT
2001 - Jones Beach, NY
2005 - Poughkeepsie, NY (Met Huey and hung out with some of the band for a few minutes)

Quite often I poke fun at it myself (by calling them "the greatest" and such). Yet I think they are horribly, amazingly disrespected. Why is there such love for Bon Jovi - a band that stood toe-to-toe with them in the 80's? Or Journey? Or other peers? Their sound, overall, is pretty timeless, with catchy hooks that got them played on - GASP! - ROCK AND ROLL STATIONS in the 80's (which is part of how I came to love their music). Is it because they haven't released a new album in nine years (the under appreciated "Plan B")?

Is it because they backed out of Live Aid because they took a very respectable stance?

Is it because they've been buried in the hell known as Adult Contemporary radio for years while Bon Jovi and others continue to be played on Album Rock stations?

Quietly, this topic has driven me nuts for years.

Pop in one of their greatest hits CD's (or on your MP3 player), if you dare. Take any bias out of your brain. Now listen...closely. Simply enjoy the beat - one of the few pure rock acts of the time. Tell me it doesn't take you back - to 1982 through 1989 (roughly) when their shows were good, old-fashioned rock with a sense of humor thrown in.

For me, it's first loves and school fun. Bowling and baseball. Graduation and one of my many nicknames ("Huey", of course). It's that amazing night in a sold out Garden, when one of the people who went with me (not a fan) was blown away by how good they were.

The thing is, they're still that good. They just do it on a smaller level now.

It's the videos - the humor and heartbreak of "If This is It", the history lesson of "The Heart of Rock and Roll", the wink-wink party style of "Heart and Soul."

It's "Do You Believe in Love", the 7th best video - EVER - when MTV compiled the list for the first time in the mid-80's.

I can still feel the excitement of walking into Record Town in the Jefferson Valley Mall and buying FORE!, then having to return to work at Sears and waiting to pop it in the cassette player.

If I were advise you on their albums, I would rank them like this:
- Sports - 1983 (the masterpiece)
- Picture This - 1982 (Includes "Change of Heart", one of my favorites)
- Fore! - 1986 (I'll take "Jacob's Ladder as my favorite)
- Plan B - 2001 (lots to like on here)
- Huey Lewis and the News - 1980 (Huey often pans it, but there's a lot of fun new wave-meets rock)
- Four Chords and Several Years Ago - 1994 (their take on their bread and butter - old R&B tunes...gave new life to classics like "Some Kind of Wonderful")
- Small World - 1988 (very experimental for them - more jazzy the the previous records)
- Hard At Play - 1991 (fits in for that time)

One other thing: "The Power of Love" was never on one of their albums. You can find it on their hits CD's.

Maybe we'll even see a new CD from them in 2010 or 2011.  Of course, they'll be on the road for a handful of dates as well.

So thanks to WNEW.com for reminding me that I'm not crazy.

The band is still out there, ready for you to rediscover.

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