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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Shaw, Tommy - 1984 Girls With Guns
Shaw, Tommy - 1984 Girls With Guns

ARTIST: Shaw, Tommy
ALBUM: Girls With Guns
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2007, American Beat (USA), 24642


LINEUP: Tommy Shaw - vocals, guitars, mandolin * Peter Wood - piano, electric piano, synths * Brian Stanley - bass * Steve Holley - drums & percussion * Richie Cannata - saxes * Molly Duncun - saxes * Carol Kenyon - vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Girls With Guns * 02 Come In And Explain * 03 Lonely School * 04 Heads Up * 05 Kiss Me Hello * 06 Fading Away * 07 Little Girl World * 08 Outside In The Rain * 09 Free To Love You * 10 The Race Is On


Tommy Shaw's first solo outing is a bit of a mixed bag. In my opinion, there's no way it could be called an AOR classic - that accolade would go to 1987's 'Ambition' - but it's good moments definitely out-weigh the bad.

The Songs
The opening track and title cut goes for the throat with its frantic pace and stabbing keys. Coupled with an anthemic chorus which is guaranteed to annoy for days, it's one of the greatest opening tracks ever. Styx had never been this direct. The track was used for the theme tune to the much-missed music show 'No Limits', which was about the only time in the UK we ever got to see any AOR videos. 'Come In And Explain' follows suit, being another punchy piece, very much in the AOR vein. It's like Tommy had been waiting for ages to record songs in this style, but they never would have been quite right for Styx as a band. The first of the album's slower numbers, 'Lonely School', is fantastic. Sure, it's a little syrupy and over-sentimental, but there's no denying its brilliance - Tommy does this kind of thing so well, it's scary. 'Heads Up' has a pompier edge, with more in common with some of the man's offerings from his Styx years, though it still has a more traditional AOR feel than some of their stuff. 'Kiss Me Hello' - alongside 'Lonely School' is the album's greatest moment. A haunting piece, centered around the piano and synths, it's one of those pieces of music I never tire of hearing. The piano and strings arrangement works wonders for me every time and Mike Stone's production is absolutely spot on. This has all the right ingredients for a classic. Timeless. For all you vinyl junkies out there, now would be the time to get up and turn over to side two, though to be honest, the second half of the album is much weaker. 'Fading Away' lacks a memorable chorus (the album's first half is made up of memorable choruses) and the reggae tinged arrangement leaves me cold. It comes across as a little heavy handed. Also best avoided is 'Little Girl World', which sounds like it may have been a reject from one of the Styx sessions - I hate this song more than the awful 'Boat On The River' from 1979's effort 'Cornerstone'. The classy AOR feel of the album's first half returns with a vengeance on 'Outside in the Rain', with a great vocal performance and guitar work - just check out that solo! - and 'Free To Love You' works quite well despite a weakness in the chorus department. Whatever, it's still better than the closing track 'The Race Is On' which I think tries too hard and ends up worse for it.

In Summary
There's no denying this album's inconsistencies, but some of it is very special. To be honest, despite it's many faults, I'd still choose it over Dennis DeYoung's sappy 'Desert Moon' every time. The CD re-issue was remastered from the original tapes and sounds great - as a bonus, both 'Kiss Me Hello' and 'Outside In The Rain' are restored to their full lengths. Most of you reading this will own 'Girls With Guns' already, I'm sure.. but I'm willing to bet a lot of you won't have heard it in a while!

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#1 | Jez on June 13 2008 10:20:38
Great debut solo this one, featuring some great tracks - 'Girls With Guns', 'Kiss Me hello', 'Lonely School' & 'The Race Is On'. Nice to have the extended versions of a couple of tracks aswell (especially 'Kiss Me'). Maybe a couple of fillers on here that bring the rating down a bit, but still a strong debut.
#2 | rostoned on August 09 2008 16:23:23
His highest charting and most succesful solo album in the USA. It peaked at #50 during a 25 week run and it featured his biggest two hit singles as well: the title track (#33) and 'Lonely School' (#60). American Beat last year reissued this album on CD.
#3 | eirrom on July 28 2011 21:19:13
Not sure I like this CD, but I do love the title cut. That synth opening just gets me going. Great song!
#4 | super80boy on September 21 2014 00:07:07
This album is a tale of two sides, Side One is very strong with all high quality up-tempo cuts and two slower cuts mixed in, both excellent with the Side One closer 'Kiss Me Hello' being an album standout. Side Two loses steam with a couple of subpar tracks, however 'Fading Away', 'Outside In The Rain' and 'Free To Love You' are good.
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