I came up through the mid-80's hardcore scene, which is partly why the people around the music scene that I respect the most are the ones who cut their teeth on '80s hardcore like I did. This can't be applied to every generation, obviously; heck, kids who started out a decade or so after me say things like, "I saw an Offspring video on TV when I was fifteen and that's how I got into punk", which is strange for me to even think about because punk wasn't even on TV when I was fifteen, or even twenty for that matter. Still, nobody falls out of the crib fully formed and listening to Void or The Abused from day one-- we all gotta start somewhere... and for me, prior to indie, punk, and hardcore, it was a bunch of late-70's/early-80's FM rock shit. When I was 16 or 17 and turned on the radio I didn't get Offspring and Nirvana, I got Eddie Money and Billy Squier, which in a way is good because Offspring and Nirvana suck way more than Eddie Money and Billy Squier ever did.
I think when the Walkman first came out they were 20 bucks, and I would walk to my summer job and listen to tapes like XTC's "The Black Sea", and Simple Minds... I was just starting to figure out that anything that had a big drum sound sounded cool to me. Cheap Trick's "Next Position Please" was another one of the tapes I'd listen to constantly. Supposedly, "I Can't Take It" is the only Cheap Trick song written by Robin Zander, but whatever the case, Todd Rundgren's mix for this song is just about perfect, with the drums on top of almost everything else. It might even be my favorite Cheap Trick song ever. One of things I thought was funny about this record is that the title track ("Next Position Please") includes the line, "I want to be the biggest gun in the world/I want to see the tits on every girl", which seems like a pretty bold line for a band striving for commercial radio airplay back in the early '80s. I didn't realize it at the time, but the cover art apparently makes fun of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run"; by the time I figured it out years later, it seemed like a pretty boring idea.
"I Can't Take It"
The best Billy Squier record is actually "Don't Say No", but since I don't have that one handy right now, I'm going with this one instead-- hence, Part Two. "Emotions In Motions" is pretty good in itself, although even at his best Billy was a little fey at times, meaning you get the stupid "Hot Space"/"Drums and Wires"-looking album cover and tons of dopey '80s studio trickery-- like the ridiculous overdubbed snare sound-- to go along with everything else. Still, we're talking Billy Squier here, one of the Top 3 Male Solo Artists, Immediate Pre-Hair Metal Era ('78-'82) (1. Eddie Money, 2. Billy Squier, 3. Donnie Iris, as first noted here some years ago). Plus there's an almost funny story about a DJ in Pennslyvania or somewhere locking himself inside the studio and playing "Everybody Wants You" a hundred times in a row, which could almost be a Spinal Tap moment if they ever want to make another one of those.
"Everybody Wants You"
Just in case anyone thinks my saying that I liked this record is a bunch of bullshit, I've posted a "best-of" list at the top of the page, taken from one one of my old zines printed exactly 24 years ago this month. Of course, I'd change the list around a bit if I had to re-write it-- like, the Cro-Mags and Slow would most likely switch places-- but it's too late now. "Done With Mirrors" was Aerosmith's first post-rehab comeback album, and even though it's on par (read: non-horn-filled) with a lot of their earlier stuff, it still flopped pretty hard, partly because everything on the record is written in backwards letters, including the production credits on the inner sleeve and even on the record label itself. They wised up afterwards and brought in a bunch of song doctors to write garbage like "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" for their next record, and the rest is history. The best track on here ("Let The Music Do The Talking") was already five years old when they swiped it from the first Joe Perry Project album and had Steven Tyler write new lyrics for it, but that one along with "My Fist Your Face" and "Shame On You" make about as good a 1-2-3 punch to start off an '80s rock record as you'll ever find.
"My Fist Your Face"
"Let The Music Do The Talking"
As an added bonus, here's that old newsletter from 1986, which a friend of mine scanned and sent to me a little while ago; I don't even have an original copy anymore. When you read it you'll see that I'm still writing the same way 24 years later (even though the two best jokes-- the Jack Rabid/Penis Landscapes joke and the Joeski Love joke-- are too old for people to get them anymore). This isn't an easy habit to get rid of, obviously.