All I want from tomorrow
Is to get it better than today–Jacob’s Ladder
When I was eight years old, I got my first radio and some albums to go with it. One of the ones I treasured most was Sports by Huey Lewis & the News. They became one of the first bands I ever got into, and one of many I still enjoy today. Since this month is celebrating my 40th birthday, I decided to devote my Jason’s Jukebox post to this band.
I’m disappointed in what time has done to Huey Lewis & the News. These days, the only song they seem to be best known for is “The Power of Love”, one of their two contributions to the Back to the Future trilogy. This post is to show you that there is so much more they made. To rate each album, I’m using–what else–DeLoreans!
- Huey Lewis (real name: Hugh Anthony Cregg III)–lead vocals, harmonica
- Sean Hopper–keyboards, backing vocals
- Bill Gibson–drums, backing vocals
- Mario Ciponella–bass, backing vocals
- Stef Burns–lead guitar (joined in 2001)
- Johnny Colla–rhythm guitar, saxophone, backing vocals
- John Pierce–bass (replaced Mario in 2001)
Huey Lewis and the News (1980)
Singles: “Some of My Lies Are True”, “Now Here’s You”
This is a pretty good debut. It feels as though the band was certain that they had a handle on exactly how they wanted to sound. Everyone sounds polished and there’s very little indication that this is a debut. They almost don’t sound green.
Best Songs: “Some of My Lies Are True” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QitJUGsHp7U, “Trouble in Paradise” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXfUelkiiqQ “Don’t Make Me Do It” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sx6K6TReP6A
Rating: 2 1/2 DeLoreans
Picture This (1982)
Singles: “Do You Believe in Love”, “Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do”, “Working For a Living”
This was the first album most people paid attention to, causing “Do You Believe in Love” to become their first top 10 hit. It feels as if they’re still a little new to the game, but not in a bad way. There’s slightly more polish here than the debut.
Best Songs: “Change of Heart” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAgM1yOH5nQ), “Do You Believe in Love” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzIbyDbmsyg), “Working For a Living” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcIK3akktLU
Trivia: Garth Brooks covered “Working For a Living”
Rating:2 1/2 DeLoreans
Singles:“Heart of Rock n Roll”, “Heart and Soul”, “If This is It”, “Walking on a Thin Line”, “Bad is Bad”
Is this still just as good as it was in 1983? Yes! The music and lyrics make this album every bit as definitive of Huey Lewis and the News as it was when I first listened to it. Johnny’s awesome sax solo in “Heart of Rock n Roll” is the best part of the song. “Bad is Bad is straight-up cool blues, and is one of my all-time favorite Huey Lewis and the News tunes. “I Want a New Drug” also has great horn sections. This is Huey Lewis and the News at their peak.
Best Songs: “Heart of Rock n Roll” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7JVlpm0eRs), “Bad is Bad” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CscPTI8fwA), “Finally Found a Home” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgTeoqAcroc)
Trivia Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, jr. when he recorded “Ghostbusters” because he felt the song stole the bass line from “Want a New Drug”. They settled out of court.
Rating: Magnum Opus
Singles: “Stuck With You”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Hip to Be Square”, “I Know What I Like”, “Doing It All For My Baby”
Huey Lewis & the News continued to ride the wave they caught with Sports. This album is a great follow-up. “Hip to Be Square” is a great commentary against staying popular in lieu of lying to yourself. “I Know What I Like” was my jam back in the day. “Jacob’s Ladder”, written by Bruce Hornsby, is a perfect fit for the band.
Best Songs: “Jacob’s Ladder” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z02LHM1kROM), “Hip to Be Square” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB5YkmjalDg), “Simple As That” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVwRfSXJTDo
Trivia: The Japanese release included both songs recorded for the Back to the Future soundtrack.
Rating: 4 DeLoreans
Small World (1988)
Singles: “Perfect World”, “Small World (part 1)”
By the time Small World was released, it seemed the band was beginning to lose steam. The 80’s were waning, and it seemed less certain that they would survive past the 90’s. The title track, divided in 2 parts, feels like it should’ve been just one song, and almost feels like filler rather than a hit. This is sadly one of their worst.
Best Song: “Perfect World” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIkOVe0MF1k
Rating: 2 DeLoreans
Hard At Play (1991)
Singles: “Couple Days Off”, “Hit Me Like a Hammer”
The 90’s was not accepting most bands that celebrated the 80’s. The world had moved on, and this album was vastly ignored. They weren’t missing much. This is by far their worst album, and I hate saying that.
Best Song: “Couple Days Off” (Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLtgyc5JmE8)
Four Chords and Several Years Ago (1994)
Singles:“Some Kind of Wonderful”, “But It’s All Right”
This was a welcome surprise. Instead of recording new material, Huey Lewis & the News covered 50’s standards. It’s just too bad the world stopped listening. When this album flopped, Huey Lewis & the News played it smart and stayed out of the 90’s, only releasing compilations of their hits and live material in the meantime.
Best Songs: “Some Kind of Wonderful” (YouTube link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnDqBKcFbzE), “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmPTQBRbs7o)
Trivia:This was Mario Cipollina’s final album as bassist.
The second cover album, this is a real shame. Huey Lewis felt that the world had given up on them, and they no longer wanted to record new material. It’s a great album, don’t get me wrong, but it feels as if you’re listening to a band trying to capture that last bit of magic.
Best Songs: “Respect Yourself” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFNPdkkyJZg “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You” (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4sQhECVmjM)
Rating: 3 DeLoreans
While Huey Lewis & the News may not be doing anything new these days, I still feel they’re worth a listen, especially if you want to know just why the 80’s were so good. Next time, in September, I’ll have two Jason’s Jukebox posts. First will be a look at one of my dad’s favorite bands, Creedence Clearwater Revival, followed by a new feature–an annual article called “10 Artists That Should’ve Been in The Rock Hall By Now”.