Huey Lewis and the News were a band whose records I never would have envisaged myself buying. I practically used to vomit in the early ‘eighties when someone even mentioned middle of the road melodic rock, and in general I wouldn’t even accept products with a golf connection if I was being paid endurance money. But by the middle of the decade, the airwaves were flooded with the tones of Huey Lewis & the News. Song after song, I’d be thinking: “Oh, that’s pretty good”, and when I heard Hip To Be Square, I nearly bought the single. I probably would have done too, had I not found out that it was on this album – Fore! And once the fullness the album’s content became apparent to me, I couldn’t resist it.
The sound is a mid ‘eighties archetype. That massive snare drum with gated reverb, the sustained guitar chords with typical American overdrive, a mix of analogue and digital type synth sounds (deluged in ‘verb), some funky clean guitar, slightly sleazy sax, and of course the obligatory Hammond. The sound in itself wasn’t something I went for. But the songs were excellent, and when you’ve got songs like that, it really doesn’t matter about the setting you use.
I also really liked Huey Lewis’s voice, and despite being laughed at for buying this album, I continued to sing its praises without reservation. I still think it’s great, in spite of, rather than because of its now pretty unfashionable production, and I’ve enjoyed digging it out for a listen. In fact, very unusually (in relation to the other tapes I’ve posted about), I’ve played it through twice. Eleven good songs – no rubbish. There wasn’t a lot to get excited about in 1986, but this was certainly an exception. It was all about the music – content over style.
The album is on the British Chrysalis label, and the cassette looks quite nice in off-white opaque plastic. Side 1 is recorded at a better quality than Side 2, which is quite erratic in terms of level. There’s a very noticeable rise in level between The Power of Love and Forest for the Trees. But I often found pre-recorded audio cassettes suffered from this kind of inconsistency. It’s all part of what makes these old analogue recordings fascinating.