Sports preview from Huey Lewis and News.
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 02/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Huey Lewis and the News' sophomore album, the self-produced Picture This (1982) was a warmup for the colossal explosion that would become Sports. While not as polished as Sports, Picture This does feature HL&N's trademark 80's rock fused with soul and doowop stylings, not to mention their appealing falsetto harmony vocals and some downright fiery guitar from lead guitarist Chris Hayes, and snappy percussion from drummer Bill Gibson. But the synergistic teamwork ensured that Huey Lewis didn't steal the spotlight just because he was lead singer. In examining the people consisting the groups, I note how they play an instrument and do vocals.
The album itself yielded three singles, two of which the Top 40. The first was the Mutt Lange-penned smooth pop song "Do You Believe In Love," a #7 hit which contains the aforementioned hallmarks of their sound, where the title chorus features harmonies from the group. The #36 "Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do," had a more leisure doowop/jazz sound, with some stylings that would later be used in "If This Is It" in Sports. Finally, the snappy and upbeat "Working For A Livin'", which has some cool organ and which I remembered being played over the speakers at the 1992 Democratic Convention, missed the Top 40 by one spot. "I'm taking what they're givin cuz I'm working for a livin'" goes the chorus, as Lewis and buddies sing of the hardships of trying to make ends meet, such as a check that's already spent for expenses such as a $100 condo and $200 rent. It seems a bit unfair that a song aimed at those of us hard workers didn't do as well, and yet the equally upbeat "Hip To Be Square" made it to #3 years later.
As for the rest, "The Only One" with some hard-driving guitar from Hayes, is a fond remembrance to a classmate who had what it took to be cool and was an inspiration to his peers, only to have a not-so successful life, losing his girl, and finally dying in an accident. This catchy tune could've been a single due to its resemblance to the pop-rock performed by Rick Springfield, Jackson Browne, and Loverboy. Ditto for "Whatever Happened to True Love" on the protagonist's idealistic belief that they were going to be different from the breakup couples, yet in musing on the title words, tries to figure out what went wrong.
"Change of Heart" benefits from some strong guitars and a consistent rhythm section and is a great opener. It's classic 80's material. They cover the Hollywood Flames' #11 1958 hit "Buzz Buzz Buzz" to close things off, and their fondness for early rock and their influences are evident with this decent and upbeat cover.
Cutting their teeth on this Sports preview proved worthwhile, as it gave them a warmup at the gym-I mean studio, to produce their best album and arguably one of the best albums of the 1980's.