"Why? "Dream Into Action" captured the new wave synth momentum of the early 80's, but took it a step further. There is not one song on this album that I do not like. Most everyone knows of "Things Can Only Get Better" and "Life In One Day", which are fantastic tracks. But there are so many other great songs on this album, that I can't believe that one man created such a wonderfully creative work. "Like To Get To Know You Well", "Bounce Right Back" and "Is There A Difference?" all are fun tracks that are just as easily accesible as the two hits. Two of my favorites are "Speciality" and "Hunger For The Flesh". The first for it's positive message and catchy melodies, and the latter for it's dark and brooding atmosphere. "Assault & Battery" and "Look Mama" are also strong tracks. And if you didn't already know this, the original version of "No One Is To Blame" is on this album. This was HoJo at his peak."
"We must live to fight the negative"
mwreview | Northern California, USA | 01/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Howard Jones had several synthesizer/drum machine-driven pop hits in the 1980s, the most well-known of which were "What Is Love?" and "Things Can Only Get Better" (on this album) which can be found on a number of 80s compilations. He is also known not only for his eccentric wardrobe & hairstyle and for being a one-man show but for the positive message he incorporated in his music. I saw a television feature on him a few years back and was impressed to learn how many people were touched by his songs and how his songs helped some of his fans get through tough times. It's rather cliché and sometimes just silly when people say how some cheesy pop tune saved them from suicide, and usually they are insincere. The people in this feature, however, seemed very genuine about the ways Jones' music touched their lives. Jones also seems like a very nice fellow. I decided to check out Dream Into Action (great album title).
Several songs off this album are on his greatest hits CD. Strangely, I found most of these tracks to be the weakest on the album. I've always liked "Things Can Only Get Better" with its bouncy synthesizer hooks. "Life in One Day," though, is my least favorite on the album. It is too funky (for lack of a better word), too cutesy and cheesy for my tastes. I always skip that song. "Like to Get to Know You Well," while upbeat, is very repetitive. "No One Is To Blame" was produced by Phil Collins and, like a lot of Collins' music, it is a play-it-safe pleasant ballad with nothing too ingenious or unique. "Look Mama" (also on the greatest hits CD) is an interesting track. Lyrically, it is rather childlike ("Look mama I love you but you gotta let me live my life") but is musically a little experimental which is what I like about 1980s electronic pop.
The tracks I like the best here are the ones where the instruments take control. My favorite is "Assault and Battery." Rather than driven by synthesizers, this track is seized by the piano and sounds very innovative Joe Jacksonesque. "Bounce Right Back" is a dance track with versus sung in a street style. Think maybe Oran Juice Jones "Somebody's Watching Me" style; more talking than singing; possibly a style that was a precursor to rap. The title track is another of my favorites. It is a clever electronically experimental track. It has an industrial sound (not NIN type of "industrial" but a factory sounding synthesizer style). "Automaton" is another electronically-driven track with some innovation. Of the rest, "Elegy" is the most somber number of this mostly optimistic album ("Is it wrong to long for death? Must I cling to the thrills of life?") yet still offers a light at the end of the tunnel ("Take us forward through this tomb, there's no finish to a life"). "Hunger for the Flesh" is another slow and interesting track. It reminds me of early 1980s Genesis (a slow, toned-down "Home By the Sea," maybe). "Is There a Difference?" is the only other track that I usually skip. It is a little too cheesy, Thompson Twinesque for me. In sum, if you know Howard Jones' hits and are considering checking out his albums, Dream Into Action has plenty to offer. It offers 14 tracks (two of which are not on my copy, including "Specialty") with enough variety to please most any 1980s pop fan's tastes. The tracks I think are the best of the dozen (i.e. "Assault and Battery," "Dream Into Action," and "Hunger For Flesh") are probably the ones that are not played as often. If you are curious, give this album a try."
The Positive Mental Attitude of Howard Jones
Tim Brough | Springfield, PA United States | 07/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Once Howard Jones got a hit record and a little clout from "Humans Lib," he took advantage of the opportunity to craft his thoughts and philosophies into "Dream Into Action." It was, when I first got it in 1985, an album I thought I'd want to take with me to a Mountain Climb. Not like I'd ever be able to climb a mountain, but the songs here were so positive and forthright that they made you feel that you could conquer anything in your path.
It is also Howard Jones' best album. Afterwards, Jones seemed to become more a popstar and less personal, which isn't altogether bad. "One to One" is almost as good as "Dream Into Action," but more as a popcraft album. The thing that stands out on this CD, as on almost all of Jones' best songs, is his innovative work on the keyboards. "Things Can Only Get Better" is one of the best 80's synth-hits, right up there with The Human League and fellow pioneer Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science." The range on this album is broader than any Jones made after, as he was experimenting with styles from the piano ballads, like "No One Is To Blame" (a deserved hit once Phil Collins remixed it) and even a poorly advised attempt at rap on "Bounce Right Back." The vegetarian anthems have NOT aged well, either.
But the strong points were the songs that promoted raising self-esteem. The title cut, the hits and others, like "Look Mama," "Specialty" and "Elegy," just oozed with respect for individuality. Jones was still young and hungry, and riding a wave of exciting music when he and many other artists were out to change the face of pop. With "Dream Into Action," he can be secure in saying that he had a hand in that shift. He can also say that he cut an album that, to this day, can make an old fan feel that wave of positive inspiration."
Ho-Jo's Sophomore Success
SRFireside | Houston, TX United States | 06/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album was a natural evolution from Howard Jone's debut hit album Human's Lib. Not only was this evolution welcomed, but it was expected. Where Human's Lib was a product of a one man band having a chance to show his talent Dream Into Action was an expansion of that.
Now Howard has a successful album on his resume and the record label gave him more to work with. What does he do with his newfound credibility? He beefs up his music with more intricate instrumentation and more refined studio engineering. The end result is a bigger sound. Now Howard can stop being a one-man band and get more musicians. The music on this album reflects that. You will notice a full brass horn section complimenting the music much like stuff from the band Chicago. You will hear more intuitive drums and percussion now that he has drummers. You hear all sorts of added sounds that weren't present in Human's Lib. The end result is a very different sounding album, but with the same Howard Jones charm.
The lyrics are along the same lines of Human's Lib with a lot of social guidance with songs like THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER and BOUNCE RIGHT BACK, but now you have some love songs like NO ONE IS TO BLAME and LIKE TO GET TO KNOW YOU WELL. All of these songs are just as fun and catchy as is previous album. Then you get songs that deal more with social issues personal to Howard like ASSAULT AND BATTERY, which is a strong slant for vegetarianism (which Jones is). Interestingly enough that's my favorite song musically if not lyrically.
Howard Jones was a major influence to me musically. Dream Into Action is probably his most successful album, and deservedly so. 80's synth-pop fans should be able to enjoy it even if the style more organic than electronic. Any regular 80's fan MUST have this album as it shows a very influencial artist of that era at the height of his popularity and songwriting savvy. Go get it."
kozmikrokker | Highland, Utah United States | 03/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album was the first cassette I ever bought. I played it over and over for years. I can't think of another album with such mysterious dark themes to it, despite some of the more upbeat singles like "Life in one day". My personal favorites are probably "Dream into action" and "Automation".This album really captured the mid-eighties in a time capsule. No one to this day has used technology in pop music quite as well as Howard did on his first 4 albums especially this one. A-ha? Alphaville? Maybe, but it's good company. Probably not going to appeal to today's youth, you kind of had to be there in the time-frame to truly appreciate this music. I just wish they'd remaster this."