Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Hi Infidelity" by REO Speedwagon (1980)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Filed between: Lou Reed and Charlie Rich

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
I am completely astounded and was not expecting what I am about to write at all.  REQUIRED LISTENING.  (4/4 stars.)  Seriously, if you haven't heard every song on this record, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

There is a such a great division of songwriting here between Cronin and Richrath here.  Even more amazing, there's is an unnerving consistency in what they write individually.  Here are some really great lyrics:

"He's got a long wick with a flame at both ends." - Don't Let Him Go
"You played dead, but you never bled.  Instead, you laid still in the grass all coiled up and hissing." - Keep on Loving You
"You hid behind your poison pen and pride." - In Your Letter
"She said they got brains all where they sit.  They think they're full of fire; she thinks they're full of shit." - Tough Guys
"Looks can't kill, but she certainly tries." - Shakin' It Loose
"I've got the time and I've got the place, I just wish you were there." - I Wish You Were There

Gary Richrath is a massively overlooked guitarist.  Here are few examples of some damn fine solos:
-Don't Let Him Go
-Follow My Heart
-Keep on Loving You
-Out of Season (the sleeper great track of the album IMO)
-Shakin' It Loose (the blues piano solo is also good on this one)
-Someone Tonight (even the bass player's song is good!)
-I Wish You Were There

My dad bought a truck in the mid-eighties and this cassette was in the glove box.  I didn't know the band or any of the songs at the time, but the album cover (along with Samantha on "Who's the Boss") pretty much initiated my puberty.  It just seemed... dirty.  Now, I think it's probably a rather literal interpretation of Take It on The Run.  I also still think it's really hot.

But my libido wasn't the only thing that "Hi Infidelity" kickstarted.  Some people think REO Speedwagon invented the power ballad with tracks like Keep on Loving You and Take It on the Run.  Those people are wrong.  Dream On  had been out a long time by then.  However, REO Speedwagon and Journey did elevate the artform for a whole lot of hair metal wussery.

Speaking of hair metal, "Hi Infidelity" really seems to set the tone and the bar for eighties rock - and hair metal LPs in general.  I think it's the superior blueprint for everything that followed in the next decade ("Permanent Vacation" included).  It basically establishes the format for an entire genre.  The whole exercise is arena-bait in a great way - Meat Loaf meets Motley Crue, with subtle synths that sway much more toward Whitesnake than Styx.  Granted, there's no cover song on "Hi Infi," but In Your Letter sounds like a cover of a fifties doo-wop standard.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  It's not just an album, it's a template for the next eleven years of rock 'n' roll.

Up next, "Fragile" by Yes.

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