Let’s start this review by just saying that Billy Squier has some of the best songs I have ever heard, period. Lets elaborate on that sentence by stressing the word “some”. I stumbled across this “older” CD by doing some organizing of my music collection. My older brother used to play some of his music and I loved what I heard. However, it was only a few select songs that he would ever play. Well, liking music as much as do, I wanted to hear more from Billy when I got older. Unfortunately I now understand why it was only a few selected songs. After purchasing all of his albums over time, I realized that there are only a handful of songs that are really worth playing over and over again. I understood why I was only hearing these particular songs and nothing new. That is what got me to purchase this CD itself. It truly is the best of Billy Squier. I will say however, the best was not enough to fill a greatest hits album like this.
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Billy Squier was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts and did not have instant success in the music business. He ended up bouncing around a few bands until he signed with Capitol Records and released his debut solo album “Tale of the Tape” in 1980. Still, this album was not a huge success and released not one single. It was kind of a cross genre, at that time, mixing rock with pop. It wasn't until he’s second album “Don’t Say No” was released in 1981 that Billy Squier became known as an artist. Featuring his own guitar play in his songs he always had a unique style. A fine guitarists in his own right, he sounded more as if he was talking instead of singing. He had the tendency to tell you a story wile extending the last word in each line. However, this style worked for the type of music he played. Listed as rock, and even sometimes metal because of the era he was in, he had a lot of pop in his music as well. Flat out though, this guy could rock and put together some of best songs in that era and maybe ever. However, no matter how good that handful of songs are, I still found myself wanting more. Still, he had great success in the 80’s with numerous songs breaking the top 100 Billboard and even more that broke the top 50 Rock Billboard. Including 2 #1’s.
Don’t Say No:
Of course, the beginning of Billy Squier’s success came down to one hit single “The Stroke” off of his second album “Don’t Say Know”. This song reached in the top 20 US Billboard. However, this song reached legendary status reaching charts all over the world including #1 in Australia. A rock song through and through, “The Stroke” is fun as well as extremely catchy. With a very heavy guitar rhythm, faster beat, and the way Squier sings all fit extremely well together. Of course, the lyrics themselves and how Squier delivers them is what put this song over-the-top. Again, the song is just fun to listen to and really can be listened to in any situation. Maybe not at a cocktail party or wedding perhaps. If you have not heard this song, and like rock, find it because it is still one of my favorite songs even today. The album itself released 2 more songs as singles “In The Dark” and “My Kinda Lover” which were also a success and on this “greatest hits album”. However, both being good songs I just feel they got more air time and play due to curiosity after the huge success of the first singe “The Stroke”. Don’t get me wrong though, “My Kinda Lover” is pretty catchy during the verses and probably my favorite pop song from him. However, it just lacks that flair that he is noted for in his huge hits. It just flows through the motions with no real “zest” and the choruses are rather bland in my book. “In The Dark” is rock through and through with a fast beat, fast guitar solo in the beginning that gets the sing started well. Then, it just seems to flow through the motions like the last song without putting any explanation points anywhere. Just some quick guitar riffs during the choruses and no real solo makes this song sort of drag out to me. Both songs I feel have nice solid versus but, lack in the choruses which is where he shows in other songs that he can really shine. Still, both songs were considered a success and the album itself stayed on the US Billboards for over two years. To me, the album should have been named for the real reason of it’s huge success, “The Stroke”.
Emotions in Motion:
His third album “Emotions in Emotions”, which also features 3 songs on this album, was another huge success for Squier. Instead of starting with the obvious best hit of this album, I liked the album cover song “Emotion in Motion”. This is Squier at his best actually putting rock, pop, and a little blues feel in one song. He blends this all together perfectly in my opinion. The song has one of the most “catchy” sorta blues rhythm that plays throughout the entries song (which is a good thing). It features some excellent quick guitar riffs during the choruses and a nice solid beat as well. Squier also sings this with that style he had, more talking than singing sometimes but, it sounds great. My only complaint about this song is that he took a good thing a little to far. The song features at just over 5min but, over the last two there is just the title over and over and a guitar solo. The guitar solo, when he finally starts to play it, is actually really good and helps the ending move a long. However, just a little to much of a slow down before it hits is all. Still, this is an excellent mix and deserved the popularity it received. Now, for one of he’s, if not the, greatest hit “Everybody Wants You”. From the second the song starts you just know it’s excellent. A catchy deep guitar riff jumps start this excellent song followed by a catchy fast beat and excellent lyrics. However, Squier himself puts this song over-the-top by the way he sings the fun lyrics. Having that singing style that stretches the last word in each line, he showcases it here more than any of his other songs. Take away nothing from the music though as it extremely catchy and that deep guitar rhythm is as “catchy” as they get. He gets to really show off that he was not just a singer and could hold his own with a “6 string” as well. “She’s A Runner” is the last song off this album to make this greatest hits. This is one of those that I mentioned before about shaking my head about. It is just all right in my opinion as he tries to perform more of a ballad. I don’t think that was his strong point trying to slow down and sing through a slower song. It does have a strong beat and some nice guitar riffs but, nothing at all stands out besides, it just isn’t him. There were other songs out there by him that would have fit this album so much better.
Signs Of Life:
This is the other album that features 3 songs. So, that is 9 out of 10 songs featured by just 3 albums on a “Greatest Hits” album. That would be ok if this was a hits album featuring a small era of an artist but, this the best of the best of Squier. The song that had to make the list, of course, would be “Rock Me Tonight” he’s other #1 Rock Billboard song. Another song that has an extremely catchy beat and rhythm. Squier also sings this one a little harder than he usually does. This actually is a good thing as it helps pump up this already pumped rock song. Don’t get more wrong, this song won’t blow your speakers or anything and actually has a slower rhythm than others by him. But, it’s the style of song that makes rock. Featuring more drums than you usually hear in his music, and more than one quick guitar solo, the song goes up and down a little. Either way, this song is one of the best songs he every released, on this album, or even ever period. Then unfortuatly the good ends there. “Eyes on You” is probably the worst track on here and just never really makes any sense. More pop than anything else, it again stays completely away from Squier’s strength in every way. From the rhythm, beat, to the way he sings it, you just don’t realize it’s him. Another one that could have been replaced with a better track. “All Night Long” at least stays with some of Squier’s strength. It is a very fast song with a quick beat and a fast short guitar riff. The part I don’t a like about this song is the way it changes direction so fast and often. It never settles into one rhythm or beat for any length. There are also some added synthesizer riff during the choruses that have no place and make no sense. Again, another song that doesn't play to his strengths very well. Better than the last song I mentioned but, not by much.
Hear & Now:
This album gets one song thrown into this 3 album greatest hits. “Don’t Say You Love Me” deserves to be here though. Getting back to his strengths this is a fun, upbeat, uptempo, song that gets you “rockin”. It just flows very well and you can just hear the fun in Squier’s voice as he sings it. Featuring some background vocals as well which is extremely rare in his music. He also gets to show off some of that guitar talent that he has in a long solo which is a good thing. Again, the song is just fun to listen to and kind of one of those songs that just fit the summer months driving in your car with the top rolled down.
The production of the album is just all right. I have heard better and I have heard worse. There are times where I find myself turning the volume up and down due to different tones in the music and the lyrics but, nothing serious. I guess it fits with the “seek” button as there are times I hit it up or down as well listening to this album. Still, the quality of sound in the album could have been better. At least the real “best of the best” are still good enough where you are not needing to strain to listen to them.
If Billy Squier put all of his greatest hits into one album, it would go down as one of the most fun, intelligent, and upbeat albums ever made. Oh wait, this is a “greatest hits” album from him. However, he doesn’t really have enough to put a greatest hits album together. Over the coarse of his career he’s really a “one hit wonder” spread out so to speak. Don’t get me wrong though, he did have a very successful career. With songs like “Everybody Wants you”, “The Stroke”, “Rock Me Tonight”, and “Emotions In Motions” he has some of the best rock/pop songs of that era and even today. But, it’s the rest that makes you tilt your head and wonder “what?”. I'm not trying to take anything away from this mans talent but, he just never really showed us the talent he had in one album or for any stretch of time over his career. A song here and there just has never cut it in the music business and he is a prime example of that to me. It makes you kind of forgettable and takes with that some of your music which is too bad. His career seems to be more spread out over time than anything else. Of course, that is where this CD comes into play. It pulls the best of him into one small package, so to speak. It is really hard to put a rating on this album, or him just because of the ups and downs but, I say a solid 3 stars all the way. To me, 3 out of 5 is right down the middle as his career was in my opinion. No matter what I have said, the best of Squier is some of the best music, of that era, you could find. I do recommend this album if you have not heard his music before or just not that many songs. You will get some excellent music, and some of my favorite songs, but at the same time you will want more of that “best”.
Thank you for reading.
Artist: Billy Squier
Album: The Best Of Billy Squier
Genres I Place him In: Rock (some songs are considered Pop)
Track List & Album:
1. Rock Me Tonite (Signs of Life)
2. In the Dark (Don’t Say No)
3. My Kinda Lover (Don’t Say No)
4. Don't Say You Love Me (Hear & Now)
5. Stroke (Don’t Say No)
6. Everybody Wants You (Emotions in Motion)
7. Emotions in Motion (Emotions in Motion)
8. Eye on You (Signs of Life)
9. She's a Runner (Emotions in Motion)
10. All Night Long (Signs of Life)
Some other Rock/Metal albums I have reviewed if you are interested in reading any.
Aerosmith “Big Ones” - Bon Jovi “Crossroads” - Cinderella “Night Songs” - Def Leppard “Pyromania” - Def Leppard “Hysteria” - Def Leppard “Vault” - Def Leppard “Adrenalize” - Chris Daughtry “Leave This Town” - Foreigner “Records” - Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” - Motley Crue “Shout At The Devil” - Poison “Greatest Hits” - Scorpions “Love At First Sting” - Scorpions “Deadly Sting” - Scorpions “Live Bites” - Skid Row “Skid Row”
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