The 1980s were very kind to bluesy rock band The News, headed by a sexy, rough-cut pretty boy (heh) named Huey Lewis. Though success wasn't quite immediate, by the time the band's second record Picture This came out, the band suddenly found themselves in the middle of the Top 20. Their sound was definitely new for the time. Though sugary sweet, the band had their own style, mixing blues rock with synth pop. The early 80s were an amazing time in music, with Men at Work released Business as Usual and Debbie Harry going solo to do her KooKoo album. The sounds were complex and interesting, unlike the mid-80s, where there was a lot of ripping each other off. Before they were megastars, though, Huey Lewis & The News had a modest pop rock album with a polished unpolished sound that bought them time to record records like Sports and Fore!
Even early on in their career, the band had some impressive chemistry and a strong flair for writing music with catchy lyrics. Starting off with the faux-angry Change of Heart and ending on the tongue-in-cheek rockabilly track Buzz Buzz Buzz, Huey Lewis & The News's second LP is a forgotten gem of 80s pop music that evokes more passion than their better known Sports record. Tell Me A Little Lie borrows heavily from The Police and Blondie, taking catchy synth flourishes and smashing them up with a dark reggae beat. "It doesn't matter if you mean it. I'll keep our little lie between us...just a little lie to remember you by." Huey's voice is just as dramatic as it is on later releases, and even though he looks a bit like a meathead Full House-wannabe, I like hearing a man being this emotional. Of course, it all has a slight 80s shine over it, but there's still something but raw about this record. While Little Lie is a great example of this, Workin For a Livin is more like a precursor to Hip to Be Square. That speed-backbeat and synth sample are mixed with a cathy motto: I'm takin' what they're givin', 'cuz I'm workin' for a livin'! Oh, Huey. I bet you are. After all, you and your band are still touring.
The real standout from this record has to be The One, a song for a band of bros that loses one of its core members in a motor accident. The racing, downtempo verses and splashes between intense choruses that wax Bruce Springsteen mixed with Duran Duran. Weird, huh? He was the only one who ever really knew; he was the only one...what can we do? He was the only one. He always showed us how. He was the only one-- where is he now? It reads like a very cheesy 80s romantic remake of Rebel Without a Cause, but it's enjoyable if you can suffer through all the sugar coating. Even though there is a pause in the song to deliver a slight eulogy and is rather blunt in the retelling, it's just so damn Top 40 that you can't help but tap your foot and smile. Other standouts include their breakout hit Do You Believe in Love? and the stupidly catchy Giving It All Up for Love. Overall, not a bad album to have in your CD collection.
Huey Lewis & The News were in a weird place in 1982. They hadn't fully realized or established their synth-pop-rock sound, nor had they left their bluesy rock sensibility behind. The result is a bit of a mixed bag, but rather than a bag of dirt and diamonds, it's one of guilty pleasures and gumdrops.
01. Change of Heart (4 Stars)
02. Tell Me A Little Lie (5 Stars)
03. Giving It All Up For Love (4 Stars)
04. Hope You Say You Love Me Like You Do (3.5 Stars)
05. Workin For a Livin (4 Stars)
06. Do You Believe In Love? (5 Stars)
07. Is It Me? (4 Stars)
08. Whatever Happened to True Love (3.5 Stars)
09. The Only One (5 Stars)
10. Buzz Buzz Buzz (3 Stars)
OVERALL SCORE: 4 STARS (4.1-)
OTHER HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS REVIEWS
1982 - Picture This
1983 - Sports
1986 - Fore!