Forgotten Gem: LOVERBOY – Loverboy (Album Review)

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“The kid is hot tonight, wooha so hot tonight, but where will he be tomorrow?”

Prompted by Facebook comments on the best albums by Loverboy (“Are you gonna do a track by track?“), I revisited the debut album and realized what a gem it really was.  It had been some time since I’d heard the debut, but it has aged like a fine wine…Nice!

There were a number of Facebook postings on this album, including:

Definitely the first album (is best). “The Kid is Hot Tonight”, “Teenage Overdose”, “Turn me Loose”, “Lady of the 80’s”…all great. I saw them open for ZZ Top around 1980 and they were amazing for an opening band (total control w/the crowd). I saw them open the next year for Kansas and once again they were great.

I love them all but I have to say “LOVERBOY” got me hooked.

Originally rejected by all the major record labels in the United States, the band signed with Columbia Records of Canada, and on March 20, 1980, Loverboy went into the studio with producer Bruce Fairbairn and engineer Bob Rock to record what would be their self-titled debut album.

Over that summer, the record became a massive hit, selling over 1,000,000 records in Canada alone! The album made its American debut in November 1980, and would go on to sell over two million copies in the USA.  The band then toured extensively that year, putting on over 200 shows with bands such as Cheap Trick, ZZ Top, Kansas, and Def Leppard.

The band at the time was Mike Reno on lead vocals, Paul Dean on guitar, Doug Johnson on keyboards, Scott Smith on bass and Matt Frenette on drums.  They were (are) brilliant hard rock/AOR and their debut is on the highest rung of the quality ladder.  The production still sounds great and the songs are unforgettable.loverboypic

The album is opened up with a signature Loverboy song in “The Kid Is Hot Tonite“.  This gets the party started and the energy leaps at you like a rabid dog and continues throughout.  The guitars of Dean slice through the speakers and are finely complemented by Johnson‘s keyboards.  On top of this, Reno announces to the world that he is the man.  Stomping vocals crush all with a smattering of Lou Gramm and a nod to Steve Perry.

Mood music introduces “Turn Me Loose” with a bobbing bassline and clear-cut guitar that sounds amazing.  The chops on this song are a joy to behold.  The female backing of Nancy Nash/Maggie Ryder enhances the song until Dean unleashes one hell of a solo that has more character than a Marvel movie.

Always On My Mind” is not an Elvis cover, you’ll be glad to know.  It is power pop at its glorious best.  The keyboards give this song more of a unique slant and Reno is on fire again, as he kicks out the vocal jams.  Interestingly enough, the guitar tone on this tune has a Brian May-like sound.  This may be one time when Queen could be referenced with Loverboy.

Other songs on the record that rock include “Teenage Overdose” and “DOA“.

There is one fly in the ointment, which is “Prissy Prissy” that I don’t like too much, but that is a minor complaint.

Overall, the record is a fantastic debut and one of the strongest in this long-running Canadian outfit’s catalog…If you ain’t heard it, do yourself a favor and get some!

Buy: Loverboy

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