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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Survivor - 1979 Survivor
Survivor - 1979 Survivor

ARTIST: Survivor
ALBUM: Survivor
LABEL: Scotti Bros
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2010, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY081
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records


LINEUP: Dave Bickler - lead vocals, keyboards * Frankie Sullivan - lead guitar, vocals * Jim Peterik - guitar, lead vocals 'Love Has Got Me' * Dennis Johnson - bass, moog synthesizer * Gary Smith - percussion, drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Somewhere In America * 02 Can't Getcha Offa My Mind * 03 Let It Be Now * 04 As Soon As Love Finds Me * 05 Youngblood * 06 Love Has Got Me * 07 Whole Town's Talkin' * 08 20-20 * 09 Freelance * 10 Nothing Can Shake Me From You * 11 Whatever It Takes * 12 Rebel Girl (bonus)


It must be a case of good timing with the recent reissue of the debut Survivor album. Recorded in 1979 but released in January 1980 after a shockingly slow label transition by Scotti Bros, this album and this band might've slipped through the cracks if not for the determination of the three leading lights of the band: Jim Peterik, Frankie Sullivan and Dave Bickler. In hindsight, most of the readers at GDAZE will know the back, future and current history of Survivor. I don't need to remind all the regular trainspotters here what their story is all about. Let's focus on the situation regarding this debut album. GDAZE regular Reyno Roxx has written a comprehensive backgrounder on the band and the circumstances behind 'Survivor' the album, as you can read on the Rock Candy reissue liner notes. The formation of the band came about during the 1977-1978 period, with Peterik, Johnson and Smith all involved with Peterik's 1976 solo LP 'Don't Fight That Feeling'. Sullivan and Bickler were previously with Jamestown Massacre, though Sullivan's more recent foray was with the excellent Mariah (a future incarnation of JM) while Bickler's more recent work at the time was in the advertising and jingles industry. Initially, it was going to be the second phase of the Jim Peterik Band, but sounding nothing like the original version found on 'Don't Fight That Feeling', a band name change was in order.. hence Survivor.

The Songs
With the backing of A&R heavyweight John Kalodner, Survivor were signed to Atlantic, but were put on the Scotti Bros label who at the time had a distribution arrangement with Atlantic. The inner-workings of label distribution that affected Scotti Bros would delay the release of the debut Survivor for nearly a year, recorded in 1979 but released in January 1980. Scotti Bros moved to have Epic Records as their distributor but the contractual situation took some time to resolve hence the delay. The album was initially produced by Ron Nevison, but Kalodner didn't like the mix so handed it to Bruce Fairbairn up at Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver to fix. Peterik's aim with Survivor was to occupy the same territory as Foreigner, and when compared to that band's 70's material, then the comparison is close. There is not too much of the keyboard work which would be their trademark on future albums, as Jim Peterik actually played guitar on this record with Dave Bickler credited for the keyboards. Still, what we do get is classy radio rock clearly aimed at the FM stations of the day. Plenty of highlights here: 'Can't Getcha Offa My Mind' is a catchy tune for sure, 'Let It Be Now' is a brash but still radio friendly outing, 'As Soon As Love Finds Me' sees Sullivan dominating with some hot lead guitar work, while Bickler's piano adds the contrast. The two tracks which see Survivor moving in a ballad direction are 'Whole Town's Talkin' and the lush 'Nothing Can Shake Me From Your Love'. Though at this stage of their career, neither of these tracks can compare to something like 'The Search Is Over', the seed was definitely sown as far back as this album.

In Summary
Because of the delay to the release, there was no momentum to back it up with any substantial tour dates, even though they did some gigs with Kansas, Jefferson Starship and Triumph, but these were not significant. Returning in 1981 with 'Premonition', the rhythm section had been replaced, and now the band was settled to a point where they would consolidate through to the 'Caught In The Game' era, working through the mega-successful period of 'Eye Of The Tiger', an iconic moment of the 80's as we all know.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on September 28 2010 16:51:53
This is definitely one of the more important albums in my life. I found the LP in the bargain bin at the local record store in fall 1985, my sophomore year in college. I had "Eye Of The Tiger" and "Vital Signs", so I figured I'd like this. The first two songs were good enough ("Can't Getcha Offa My Mind" sounds like it could have been on The Cars first album), but this album really started blowing me away from the third song on. I played the absolute heck out of this one that fall. And since that is when I met and fell in love with the girl who has been my wife the past 21 years, there are a lot of memories associated with it.

This doesn't sound quite the same as what we came to expect from Survivor, but I love it nonetheless. I think having a rhythm section that has more of a funk background makes a difference here.

Highlights for me are plenty, but the trifecta of "Let It Be Now", "As Soon As Love Finds Me", and "Youngblood" is definitely one. I also really liked "Whole Town's Talkin'" and "Nothing Can Shake Me (From Your Love)". Jim Peterik sings lead in "Love Has Got Me" except for a brief part where Dave Bickler takes over just before the brief solo.

I had never heard "Rebel Girl" before the "Ultimate Survivor" compilation a few years back. I think it made it only to the Japanese version of the LP. It was recorded after the rest of this album and is a lot closer to the sound of "Premonition". Definitely worth tracking down if you don't have that one (or this whole album).

As you might be able to tell, this is an album I would have eventually reveiwed. Great to finally see it on here.
#2 | jeffrey343 on December 02 2011 19:54:02
I have the Volcano Records version of this CD that I got back in 2001. It sounds pretty darn good. Does anyone have the new Rock Candy version? I can't imagine the sound quality would be that much better. The CD booklet would be good. Just trying to figure out how critical it is for me to upgrade this one. The Rock Candy version of "Too Hot To Sleep" was a definite improvement over the version I grabbed off the shelf at the CD store in 1988.
#3 | reyno-roxx on December 02 2011 20:59:00
They're all better than the Volcano versions; especially this one!
#4 | sabace on August 07 2012 15:58:53
great lp a much rawer survivor
#5 | dangerzone on December 09 2013 00:02:39
Nobody mentioned how great 'Freelance' is, one of the hardest rock tracks of Survivor's output.
#6 | jeffrey343 on December 09 2013 15:40:15
I'll agree that 'Freelance' is great. I've played this album three times the past two weeks, so it is still quite relevant to me. Takes me back 28 years to late 1985 when I got it.
#7 | rkbluez on March 04 2017 17:49:18
Got this LP for 50 cents in a promo bin at a local record store when it first came out and been a fan ever since...really love this album and Premonition played both of them to death and had 3 different CD versions so far...the Jap versions sound good but the Rock Candy ones are a lot more punchy and a bit louder.
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