Wednesday, November 23, 2011

80's Guilt #34: REO Speedwagon “Keep On Loving You” (1980)

We regret to inform any readers that REO's fellow arena cohorts Styx and Journey will not be appearing in the "80's Guilt" mix. Styx is simply too gay (and if you don't think "Come Sail Away" is gay, you're not paying attention). And while Journey's musicianship is admirable, their songs don't especially transcend to us in the same way as REO.

(The only possible exception would be "Lights," and NOT "Don't Stop Believing," which we appreciated far more before half of America attempted to adopt it as the new working-man's national anthem... We want to make sure our stance on this is clear before continuing... "Don't Stop Believing" is ok - not especially bad or great - with admirable musicianship and song structure. But like most of Journey's output, it's fucking LAME, and it's been so overplayed since the mid-2000's that we would prefer to not hear it again until at least 2016. It's the #1 iTunes download of alltime. It was played in the final 2 minutes of the last episode of The Sopranos. And it's the only shitty 80's corporate rock bumout that was included in The Pitchfork 500, their perceived canon of the modern era's 500 best songs, a list that would not have included the song had it been published 5 years earlier or 5 years later, but rather because it just happened to be considered trendy at the time.)

What sets apart REO Speedwagon is really nothing extraordinary. Their Hi Infidelity LP from 1980 has been cited by Scott Lucas as an influence on Local H's album sequencing, what he called "10 songs, 10 singles." Others have labelled this concept as "All killer, no filler." And they bring up a good point... Six of the album's ten songs were played on the radio and charted in Billboard. For us, side A specifically stands out as "all killer":

Side 1
1. "Don't Let Him Go" (3:47)
2. "Keep On Loving You" (3:22)
3. "Follow My Heart" (3:50)
4. "In Your Letter" (3:18)
5. "Take It On The Run" (3:59)

Before settling on its biggest hit, we strongly considered "In Your Letter" and "Take It On The Run," and so we might as well post those below as well... "Keep On Loving You" is the most perfectly structured, and it doesn't get all sappy and lame like "Can't Fight This Feeling." We'd rather not detail and masturbate over its structural elements any further, even though it's hugely tempting, but this is already our douchiest post in months, so we should probably move on at this point...


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