Sports (30th Anniversary Edition)

Huey Lewis & The News

Capitol, 2013

http://www.hueylewisandthenews.com

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/22/2013

Somewhere, there is a smile on a face of a boy who is experiencing this album for the first time. Hopefully, through the release of this 30th anniversary Deluxe Edition, this classic American rock ‘n’ roll release will gain new fans. Now featuring live versions and “newly recorded” takes on songs, this album offers just cause to celebrate.

The album kicks off with “The Heart Of Rock & Roll,” which 30 years later gushes about Lewis’ love affair with the genre, describing it as still beating in cities like Cleveland and Detroit. With its wicked saxophone solo and Lewis’ harmonica, this is a nearly perfect opening track. “Heart And Soul” follows, but it’s “Bad Is Bad,” with its critique of the cousin who “plays guitar / sounds like a buzzsaw buzzin’” that always gets my smile. Lewis tells the story of going to see his cousin playing in a band and notes to his uncle, “Hey hey uncle, man your son is bad / Sometimes bad is bad.” The appeal of Lewis’s storytelling style is evident already by this third track.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And it continues to the first song I ever heard by this band. Remember that this came out in the 1980s. In context, it was the era of the “Just Say No To Drugs” campaign that was sweeping the United States. But here, on the local pop radio station, there was a song with the tagline that the singer wanted a new drug that “won’t make me sleep all day.” For the era in which the song was released, it was a breakthrough. Also, it features an extended horn riff under a guitar solo, which was new (at the time) before ending with the final verse. The video included Lewis singing into a tub of ice water, which became a popular clip on MTV.

And that’s it, really. Except for “If This Is It,” the second half of this release does not feature a single that I can remember on the radio. Everyone always talks about the first four songs and “If This Is It” as being the definitive songs on this release and this is correct. “Finally Found A Home” is okay and “You Crack Me Up” sounds overdone and out of place with the synth background. “Honky Tonk Blues” also sounds out of its element.

The special 30th anniversary adds a second CD with live takes of the first seven songs and newly recorded versions of the final two tracks. I like “You Crack Me Up” better in its newer version. The synth keyboard is not as dominant and, for “Honky Tonk Blues,” there’s something different about Lewis’ vocals that makes it more appealing.

So, when you listen to this 30th anniversary version, create a playlist in your favorite media player for this release. Tracks one through seven should be the original first tracks, but replace the original versions of the last two tracks with the “newly recorded” versions. Or, if you like live versions, just listen to the second CD. The route you choose will not disappoint you, because overall, Sports is still a powerhouse release.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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