Review Summary: I have to return some video tapes.
White Lion’s 1987 release “Pride” and was a clear step up from a maturity level from their 1985 debut “Fight to Survive” and later releases “Big Game” and “Mane Attraction.” “Pride” is White Lion’s finest release and is an interesting case study of the dichotomy of 80’s culture. Like other glam metal bands like Winger and Twisted Sister, White Lion embraced the time-honored tradition of the concept of love in their songs, segueing between episodes of tender longing and the more carnal arenas of the concept. Songs like “Hungry” and “Sweet Little Loving” showcased vocalist Mike Tramp’s penchant for sex, and the lyrical overtones do not belie the clear influences of bands like Motley Crue and L.A. Guns. Moreover, tracks like “Wait,” “Lady of the Valley,” and “Tell Me” purport to the listener that vocalist Mike Tramp is not merely a glitzy archetype, but a man not afraid of monagomy. “Wait” is a personal favorite; its soaring production and trenchant atmosphere are at a level almost unrivaled in 80’s glam rock. The individual instrumentation of Brava, Lomenzo, and D’Angelo are in perfect synchronization with Tramp’s vocals. I find it more than just an effective rock single. It actually speaks to us at a deeper level and serves as a legitimate companion to any lonely person in the 80’s.
Throughout “Pride” White Lion proved their legitimacy in alignment with the times and mores of popular music. It’s hard to pick a favorite from so many tracks, but the power ballad “When the Children Cry” is a standout and possibly the most meaningful piece of 80’s music alongside “In Too Deep” by Genesis and “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. “When the Children Cry” is not merely a gentle acoustic ballad brilliantly strummed by guitarist Vito Brava. It’s simple yet incredibly powerful message speaks not just across cultures but nations. The line “no more presidents/and all the wars will end/one united world/under God” supports an international utopia, inspired by Apartheid and numerous injustices in Sri-Lanka. Perhaps Mike Tramp’s Danish upbringing is an influence, their culture is more utopic and friendly to their neighbors, but regardless Tramp was able to brilliantly categorize the multiple plights of the world through the metaphor of a weeping child. Tramp pleads “what have we become/just look at we have done” and implores us to rebuild what we have destroyed. White Lion were smart enough to know the average jaded citizen would not behoove themselves to this impassioned request if it were not metaphorically aligned through the wet eyes of a harmless child. “Pride” is an effective album sonically, but its legacy will be the one great message to humanity that bookends its often fun, electric atmosphere. It’s one of the better records I’ve heard in rock.
Patrick Bateman: Do you like Huey Lewis and The News?
Paul Allen: They're OK.
Patrick Bateman: Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in '83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He's been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far much more bitter, cynical sense of humor.
Paul Allen: Is that a rain coat?
Patrick Bateman: Yes it is! In '87, Huey released this, Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is "Hip to be Square", a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it's also a personal statement about the band itself.
Do you like Phil Collins? I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Christy, take off your robe. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. Sabrina, remove your dress. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Sabrina, why don't you, uh, dance a little. Take the lyrics to Land of Confusion. In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. In Too Deep is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I've heard in rock. Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your asshole. Phil Collins' solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like In the Air Tonight and Against All Odds. Sabrina, don't just stare at it, eat it. But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is Sussudio, a great, great song, a personal favorite.
Patrick Bateman: Did you know that Whitney Houston's debut LP, called simply Whitney Houston had 4 number one singles on it? Did you know that, Christie?
Elizabeth: [laughing] You actually listen to Whitney Houston? You own a Whitney Houston CD? More than one?
Patrick Bateman: It's hard to choose a favorite among so many great tracks, but "The Greatest Love of All" is one of the best, most powerful songs ever written about self-preservation, dignity. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instills one with the hope that it's not too late to better ourselves. Since, Elizabeth, it's impossible in this world we live in to empathize with others, we can always empathize with ourselves. It's an important message, crucial really. And it's beautifully stated on the album.