The all-time list of rock solo artists, 1978-1983 (immediate pre-hair metal era) goes like this: 1) Eddie Money 2) Billy Squier 3) Donnie Iris, and I'm not even trying to open this up for debate (knowing that most of you guys don't even care anyway), I'm just throwing it out there. You guys got to turn on the radio when you were 16 and listen to Rage Against The Machine or the "Judgement Night" soundtrack. When I was 16, I got to hear "Ah! Leah!", if I was lucky. Wait, I probably had it better, now that I think about it.
"Ah! Leah!" was Donnie Iris' big hit, of course -- look it up on YouTube if you think you've never heard it, it's great -- but I've always liked "Love is Like a Rock" even more. It was sort of like a Mad Magazine version of a rock song, with an AC/DC type riff plus a lyric that seemed to saying that girls are dumb and you shouldn't listen to adults at all... which is pretty cool stuff when you're 15 years old, I guess. The back of the jacket and the record label credits this album to "Donnie Iris and The Cruisers", but I never heard anyone call it that back then, they just called it Donnie Iris. Even though I'm not fifteen anymore this song still fucken rules, especially for a guy who seemed to be pretty regional as far as his appeal goes (finding anyone outside of the Northeast who's ever heard of Donnie Iris is a bit of a lost cause).
"Love is Like a Rock"
Billy Squier was almost inescapable in '81, with "The Stroke", "Lonely Is The Night", "My Kinda Lover" and all that. "In The Dark", the leadoff track to this album, is definitely the one Billy Squier song that I used to crank the most, since the way the chorus just takes off (followed by the bridge) is massive, and also because it's so fucken weird. For such a commercial AOR type guy, Billy used to cram a lot of odd stuff into his songs: ridiculous overdubbed "gunshot" snare hits, a lot of strangely dull keyboard parts, and some screwy vocal effects. It's as if he was being produced by a committee. There's even a blip during the middle of the guitar solo that almost sounds as if someone put their elbows down on the keyboards by accident. The chattering 'n shit at the end of the guitar solo is pretty great, though.
Billy Squier's fully-functional early '80s rock star effect
Billy Squier -
"In The Dark"
The front jacket photo might look like a set-up for some lame Eagles/Pablo Cruise soft rock shit (almost all of his other album covers are much better, at least the "I just woke up in some chick's apartment and I better find a pay phone fast" ones are), but there's no doubt that Eddie Money was the man, and "Think I'm In Love" is probably my favorite Eddie Money song. I think Sinkhole even covered this song; I wish I still had that record.
"Think I'm In Love"
(End notes: When I first posted "Part One" of this series a year ago, "In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up" was just something that I googled (it's the title of a live Ministry DVD or something). I figured that it fit, because everybody would see that I wrote a post about Aerosmith and Cheap Trick and just keep on moving without bothering to read it. Maybe a month or two afterwards, "Beware of The Blog" started using the same title for their live show recaps, which I guess makes more sense. So, apologies to WFMU for stealing their post title before they even started using it.)