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Streetheart - 1980 Drugstore Dancer




ARTIST: Streetheart
ALBUM: Drugstore Dancer
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: ST 6481
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1996, EMI Canada (Northern Heritage Series)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Kenny Shields - vocals * John Hannah - guitars * Ken 'Spider' Sinneave - bass * Daryl Gutheil - keyboards * Herb Ego - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Drugstore Dancer * 02 Teenage Rage * 03 Nobody Like You * 04 Go To Hell * 05 You're Gonna Crash * 06 Tin Soldier * 07 Trouble * 08 Sold Out * 09 Let Me Go

WEBLINKS: www.kennyshieldsandstreetheart.com


Background
By 1980 Streetheart had been one of the biggest acts in Canada for a while, having collected several gold and platinum awards, hit singles and even JUNO Awards (Canada's Grammys) since 1978. For this fourth album they decided to toughen up the sound by producing the record themselves, feeling they'd gotten a little too lightweight with 'Quicksand Shoes', their last album for Atlantic before jumping ship and moving to Capitol the same year. The results are mixed but not without reward ?


The Songs
'Drugstore Dancer' is an immediate statement of intent, furiously paced with limited melody but plenty of attitude. The chorus is a double take of Point Blank's 1979 track 'Penthouse Pauper', although Point Blank would return the favour in 1982 when their track 'Gone Hollywood' sounded like a missing Streetheart classic! 'Teenage Rage' is a different matter at midtempo, bringing Spider's talent on the bass right up front. Strong hooks propel the verse and bridge into a spiralling waterfall of melody at chorus time, delivered with class in the AOR/Journey tradition. 'Nobody Like You' comes on like a Canadian 38 Special, 4/4 backbeat (as Kinky Friedman would say 'bordering on the hypnotic') overlaid with hooks and vocals dripping with attitude. There's still room for melody though, despite the occasionally intrusive honky tonk piano. 'Go To Hell'.. the title hints at a possible tour de force and it doesn't disappoint - a furious pomp-rock (think Angel) intro gives way to well structured uptempo verses and an intense chorus where the chords underneath the impassioned vocals add the magic. 'You're Gonna Crash' takes off on the midtempo boogie runway but quickly overrides any Southern overtones with flowing melodies and the kind of chorus nobody can really nail like they can, the closest comparison being Cheap Trick at their very best. The early 80's found many bands including a cover version per album, and the Small Faces classic 'Tin Soldier' makes an appearance here - delivered with conviction and a passionate vocal take from Kenny Shields, they manage to take a great chorus and make it their own. Trouble is well known as an audience favourite, complete with killer riff and vocal aggression at an intimidatingly sedate pace, something like early Survivor without the killer chorus - the hook and verse are good enough for a passing grade. 'Sold Out' hints at the sound that would follow on their next album, the classic 1982 self titled commercial smash .. syncopated keyboard work pulsing along with the 4/4 backbeat, a great foundation for a simple yet effective hook and basic chorus. 'Let Me Go' gets the funk out, closing the album with a midtempo strut, tugging out Streetheart's love for the Rolling Stones, right down to the 'whooo whooo' backing vocals. Despite the melody being pretty subtle, the charm and underlying AOR textures will win you over.


In Summary
This album maintained their successful status in Canada, setting them up perfectly for superstardom to follow in '82. 'Drugstore Dancer' is a strong AOR statement in it's own right though, now available on CD through EMI's Northern Heritage series - another gap in the AOR collection filled.


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