As 1984 rolled into 1985 Billy Squier’s career was showing no Signs of Life! Lemme explain!
Squier had a great solo run of recorded material starting from 1981’s Don’t Say No right into 1983 with Emotions in Motion. Billy at the point in time was selling out arenas and bands opening for Billy included Def Leppard before Lep’s Pyromania sold millions upon millions …
Speaking of Lep. Jim Steinman co produced along with Billy on this album. Steinman of course produced Meat Loafs “Bat out of Hell” and basically co wrote/produced and did it all on Bat out of Hell. Jim on Signs of Life just sat in the co- producers chair as Billy as he always does on his albums writes everything solo. Def Leppard must have liked the sound of this album as they tried working with Steinman early on in the Hysteria sessions before that crumbled and Leppard scampered back to Mutt Lange!
Squier to keep the Momentum Train chugging down the Music Highway known as Making Money released Signs of Life in July of 1984.
The album quickly went Platinum and the lead single Rock Me Tonite was released and the video with Billy dancing around in a bedroom wearing pink pants torpedoed his career so quick. The fallout from the video was huge! Tickets to shows slowed down. Records stopped selling and Billy basically retired…
If you want to read an exact account of the fallout of this video read the book I Want My MTV. It’s a great account how the public can build you up and tear you down ……Quick!
Squiers career never recovered. A shame really as Billy released in 1989 what I would consider his best recording Hear and Now but no once cared. A shame really but as they say ‘Shit Happens”
But let’s focus on the album from the 1984 period of Mr Squier!
Signs of Life is a pretty decent album. From opener All Night Long Billy and his band. Jeff Golub(Guitar) R.I.P/Drummer Bobby Chounaird(Drums) R.I.P/ Alan St John (Keys) and Doug Lubahn(Bass) lay down that identifiable sound that is Billy! Straight ahead rock tracks spread throughout this album!
Speaking of which….
The backing band that Billy had with him was top-notch as these guys played on all of Squier’s albums as well as the live shows and it was an ass cracking great act….
Rock Me Toniteif you erase the video from your memory is a great song period! It’s Squier doing what he does best. Writing a single that has a bit of oomph courtesy of the drums.
Throughout the albums 10 tracks Signs of Life clocks in at just over 50 Minutes! Not to many records from 84 were clocking in over that amount of time. Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave” record is one that clocks closer to an hour! So Billy and Maiden were pushing the grooves of the vinyl to their limits…
(Another)1984 features Queens Brian May punching out the solo during the song. This is a great track that leads off Side 2 and has a lot of giddy up in the song. Squier has some Queen connections as well as he opened for Queen in 1982. Queen producer Mack produced Billy’s ‘Don’t Say No’ album!
Connections all around and why not use them to your strength. Billy is a smart fella and let’s not forget that in 2018 Billy is a very rich man as a bunch of Hip Hop/Rap artists have sampled his albums for the drum sounds that came from Billy’s records.(Billy owns 100% of his publishing)
Don’t feel too bad for Billy though….
Signs of Life in my opinion is a solid piece of Squier Rock. A good listen and I’m happy that I scooped this album for $5 as I originally bought this back upon its release in 1984 on cassette tape which had absolutely no packaging inside the sleeve. (which drove me nuts).
“Don’t let a bad video other wise ruin a great album!”