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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Prism - 1983 Beat Street
Prism - 1983 Beat Street

ALBUM: Beat Street
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: ST-12266
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 2008, Renaissance, RMED-151 (with 9 bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Henry Small - vocals, bass, guitar

Guests: Timothy B. Schmit - vocals * Richie Zito - guitar * Michael Baird - drums * Jimmy Phillips - keyboards * Dennis Belfield - bass * Bobby Kimball, Bill Champlin - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Nightmare * 02 Beat Street * 03 Dirty Mind * 04 Modern Times * 05 Is He Better Than Me * 06 Blue Collar * 07 Wired * 08 State Of The Heart * 09 I Don't Want To Want You Anymore


From the start it's worth pointing out that this was Henry Small's second album with Prism, and there's quite a few lineup changes since the last album from 1981 'Small Change'. To be fair, this album is not really Prism either. The true core of the band dissolving after that 1981 album. It seems that Mr Small wasn't the easiest to get along with, although his vocal talents cannot be disputed. Despite all this upheaval, he managed to rope in future superstar producer Ritchie Zito into the band, and even a guest appearance from Bobby Kimball ex Toto.

The Songs
'Nightmare' begins the album in Survivor meets pompy Le Roux territory, very well arranged and melodic throughout. Next is the title track 'Beat Street', a new wavish electro pop affair that's bearable but somewhat out of place. 'Dirty Mind' goes some way to repairing the damage despite being a little lightweight - great use of hooks and strong melodies make up for the fragile and sparse guitar presence. 'Modern Times' is still inhabiting hi-tech territory, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. Despite the decent melodies and abundant energy, it's a slightly bewildering end to side one of the vinyl. Side 2 kicks off with 'Is He Better Than Me', and this is more like it - pure anthem AOR in the 1983 style, complete with classic chorus like 'Megaforce' era 707. 'Blue Collar' borrows Foreigner's 'Hot Blooded' riff and uses it to build the working man's ultimate AOR anthem, this is really stunning and worthy of big hit status. 'Wired' comes across as Shooting Star meets Fergie era Le Roux, in other words yet another classic which, like the two before it, you'd expect to find on side one. The descending hook in the chorus is the stuff of AOR dreams. 'State Of The Heart' doesn't let the side down either, a melodic treat at midtempo with all the keyboard/guitar interplay you can handle and yet another flowing chorus. This classic side of vinyl closes off with a power ballad called 'I Don't Want To Want You Anymore', a slice of such emotionally charged class that I feel obliged to compare it to the monumental ballads on 707's classic debut.

In Summary
Now I fully understand why this album has been hailed as a classic of AOR for many years, and you won't even have to search for a second hand vinyl copy - it's being released as a double CD with the previous 'Small Change' album in late October 2001 or so. My credit card's already itchy !!

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#1 | richardb on June 13 2008 12:37:03
A good album but 'Modern times' is a truly awful song!

Richard B
#2 | Nick C on June 28 2008 18:06:16
Agreed ... lol! State of the Heart makes up for it though Smile
#3 | Emda on August 05 2010 22:24:32
IMHO this is a top 10 AOR album of the 80's, there is not bad single moment on it.
#4 | jeffrey343 on September 15 2010 21:06:57
I loved "Is He Better Than Me?" the first time I heard it on radio in '83 and rushed out to get the single ( the B-side was "State Of The Heart" ). I probably heard it on radio fewer than five times, and I never heard anything else from Prism. I finally found this on CD about three years ago, and I heard their previous albums too. Overall, this is pretty good stuff. I'll agree that the first side is the weaker side, but the second side (from track 5 on) has a couple of killers ( "Is He Better Than Me" and "Wired" ), and the other three are very good.

The version of this album I have (which is the most readily available one) contains nine bonus tracks. Four of them are alternate versions of the original tunes (they don't sound too different to me). The five newer ones are, IMO, stronger tunes than a couple that were on the original album.

I do prefer this to their earlier output, although the earlier stuff is pretty good. But this pretty much is a different band since none of the original members are on it.
#5 | gdazegod on September 15 2010 23:43:57
Was a bit cheeky of Henry to release this as Prism actually..  no
#6 | Eric on September 16 2010 00:37:12
Agree, better going with Small Wonder I would have thought...
#7 | Vincenzo on October 09 2011 12:01:09
!?!? One of the BEST Pomp/A.O.R. album from 1983, no doubts about that. Reissued by Reinassance Records.
#8 | super80boy on March 23 2014 15:58:40
This album gets off to a great start with the thundering 'Nightmare' and really doesn't let up. The title track is a little out of place, but its not a bad song by any means. Beat Street is chock full of AOR gems.
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