Tag Archives: Billy Squier

Billy Squier: Signs of Life(1984)

 

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!”

 

Billy Squier/ Don’t Say No (1981)

Over the years Billy Squier in my humble opinion has never gotten his due and take away his 1985 Career Ending Video (Rock Me Tonite) the dude wrote/recorded a bunch of great straight ahead rock songs!( Don’t get me started on 1989’s Superb Hear N Now album!)

1981 Billy and his Band release Don’t Say No and first single The Stroke explodes on the charts and rocks Billy to the top of the Charts in both Album and Single Sales.

The Dudes With The Instruments…

Billy Squier – lead vocals, guitars, percussion, piano
Cary Sharaf – guitars
Alan St. Jon – keyboards
Mark Clarke – bass, backing vocals
Bobby Chouinard – drums

Even in 2016 The Stroke is still sampled amongst rap acts and Billy is one of the few artists out there that has full control over his back catalogue. Smart fella that Billy with an even better Lawyer back in 1981!

Here’s some of the acts that have sampled Squier’s Stuff Below from this album…

“The Stroke”
“Hip Hop Is Dead” by Nas from the album Hip Hop Is Dead
“Stroke Me” by Mickey Avalon
“Berzerk” by Eminem from the album Marshall Mathers LP 2
“My Kinda Lover”
“Shady XV” by Eminem from the album Shady XV

What’s crazier is that Billy’s whole catalogue has been sampled 111 Times and has him third all time on the Most Sampled Rock Track List!

But back in 1981 this album had a bunch of standout tracks and thanks to Billy’s and Mack’s (Queen Producer) Production  they hit this album out of the park in Grand Slam Fashion…

1. “In the Dark” 4:09
2. “The Stroke” 3:38
3. “My Kinda Lover” 3:32
4. “You Know What I Like” 2:56
5. “Too Daze Gone” 4:05
6. “Lonely Is the Night” 4:42
7. “Whadda You Want from Me” 3:43
8. “Nobody Knows” 4:20
9. “I Need You” 3:52
10. “Don’t Say No”

The songs have that real cool laid back early 80’s rock vibe and this is Billy before Billy was making serious $$$$.  The sound of the album has elements of Queens The Game not in songs of course but the Sonic end of things.

The opener track In The Dark takes you all of about 30 seconds in to know that Squier has his own style of Rock Voice that is distinct and well to my ears Billy was and is a good singer that no one ever talks about. In The Dark fuses some cool drums/keys and guitars and makes the listener listen up! Great straight ahead rock track!

The Stroke. What can you say about this track that hasn’t already been said! The Drums are the centerpiece of this song dig the interplay between the suped up keys and guitars during the chorus! Yeah I could have posted this video but why? Just sing it …..STROKE/STROKE/STROKE……..

My Kinda Lover just keeps the radio rock hits going! Squier and the Boys keep the party buzzing and the song is just a 4 on the Floor rock song! Catchy chorus…slick verse’s all tided up by a fine vocal delivery by Billy.

Basically you cannot go wrong with the first three tracks as they are very good tunes and this vibe continues onto the rest of the album as well.

Songs like Too Daze Gone/Whadda Want From Me are straight rock tracks catchy with ton’s of Hook’s and great playing and singing whereas a track like I Need You sounds like if The Cars had lost a bit of quirkiness and went with  running there keyboard through a Marshall Amp. I Need You is different but good.

Album closer and title track Don’t Say No has Billy and Band doing a little fade out at the beginning of the song that goes into some nice acoustic playing before the electrics once again show up and lead the song to the end of the albums conclusion.

Don’t Say No is a worthy Crash Course in all good things Rock!

SONIC WAVES….Billy Squier/Hear And Now

 

Ahhh frigg,it’s 1989 and no one cares about Billy Squier after that one video ( I ain’t saying it here) demolished Squiers career into the waste bins of North America! But me buying and snapping up everything in sight musically related back than, I seen Billy Squier under the new release section with Hear And Now. Now don’t feel to bad for Mr Billy as when he signed his record deal in the early 80s it came with full control(no middle man)in other words he gets all the $ when someone nowadays samples his music. Business savvy that fellas was/is. When I seen the cover (You tube pic is the cover of Hear And Now) it looked like one of two things.  1- a mug shot or 2- Billy’s all night Bender photo. I took the gamble and bought this and boy am I ever glad I did. Now this is not crazy balls out heavy record but a well written big o slab of melodic rock. Billy outdid himself on this album. Too bad the masses did not take notice,I did though and Hear It is,

Let’s give Billy some props now shall we,

ROCK OUT/PUNCH SOMEBODY- starts off the record with some crowd noise and Billy asks ya Do you wanna Rock out?  Hell ya sez I! If not Billy’s gonna Punch ya out! This is a great leadoff track as Billy throws down the gauntlet! Welcome back !

STRONGER-is a nice little mid tempo rocker with a pretty cool sax solo thrown in. Pretty cool rhythm drives the track along…..

DON’T SAY YOU LOVE ME- this one is a little more of a slow groover. Pretty neat little riffing on this one.One thing I say this album has some good production on it. Always dug Squiers voice. This was I believe the first single off of it…..

DON’T LET ME GO- Billy’s night goes from the previous Don’t Say You Love Me to Don’t Let Me Go which is the first slow burner on Hear And Now. Song starts off with some classical guitar and it finally ramps up a bit……

TIED UP-must have been a single also but why this didn’t catch on in 89 who knows why. Oh yeah that Video with him from back in 1985…. shit not going there! But this song ends side one on a high little fast paced rocker…Atta boy Billy don’t give Up!

(I PUT A)SPELL ON YOU- Billy cranks up side two right out of the box with a straight ahead rocker kinda like the same pace that Bill had done with Everybody Wants You. Good solid tune!

G.O.D- hey where you going now G.O.D.? Asks Mr Squier. This song is pretty damn cool and one of my faves on this album.  Funky beat and Billy pulls out the stops on this song. Once again I really dig the vocal!

MINE TONIGHT -Is a simple song ,straight ahead pull no punches power ballad. It’s alright on this album would not be so on AC-DC Blow Up Your Video album! Why the hell I said That I have no idea, it just came to me.

THE WORK SONG- C’mon Billy says..get up,get moving,check out the cool horns on this little bad boy ..oh yeah Billy is saying Work Baby Work……this song is like a head on collision between Pour Some Sugar On Me and The Stroke..

YOUR LOVE IS MY LIFE- Yep Billy notches it right down to close the album off in Squier ballad fashion….

I had a buddy named Moose who was big into the Ramones,D.O.A,Forgotten Rebels,Motörhead, Gwar ,get the picture? Well as soon as he heard Hear And Now he jumped on board and got his own copy of Hear And Now. That my peeps is the power of a good rock n roll album.

Now as for the vids….Tied Up is a pretty cool little rocker and once again check out the cover! The second vid is Squier live from 2009( about the 2 minute mark,after the dudes drum solo)Good on him getting his rock n roll feet moving again!