Text 27 Jan Vital Signs (Survivor) - Review

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Click here to watch the music video for “I Can’t Hold Back”

Who here remembers Survivor? Yeah, that band that made that song… What was it called? The Rye or the Kaiser? No no no, The Eye Of The Tiger! That’s the one! That’s usually the response I get when I bring up one of my favorite bands of all time. “Oh dude, the only good Survivor songs were the ones done for the Rocky movies” seems to accurately describe most people’s opinions on the band and that’s a shame. Survivor was (and is) a solid group that made great music in an era when cheesy pop songs were the shit. And you know what? They were at the forefront of making that kind of music with other AOR bands like Journey and Foreigner!

In 1985 Survivor had a lot riding on them. Their previous album, the follow up to the hit album “Eye Of The Tiger”, was hardly the chart topping success they had hoped for it to be and to top it off, their lead vocalist Dave Bickler had developed vocal problems and left the band. They eventually hired pretty boy Jimi Jamison, who had previously sang for two groups, Target and Cobra, as well as provided background vocals for ZZ Top. The band also decided to hire a producer known for making popular records as opposed to having their guitarist, Jim Peterik, produce the album like he had for Caught In The Game. The album came out in September of 1984 and yielded three hit singles, “I Can’t Hold Back”, “The Search Is Over”, “High On You”, and also had the song “First Night” barely miss cracking the Top 50 of the charts. The album had a much more apparent pop sound than it’s rock oriented predecessor and was a huge success for the band. The album has also been remastered and released with the bonus track “Moment Of Truth”, which was released on The Karate Kid’s soundtrack.

Rather than go through all of the albums tracks individually, I decided to would just talk about the overall sound of the album and a couple of tracks specifically.

The album is a pop record. There’s no getting around that. If you don’t like pop, you might not like this record. This album is build around keyboards, and cheesy vocals. If you can’t over look all of that, this album is not for you. The music has a light springtime feel to it and has no overall message, theme, and doesn’t do anything revolutionary.

So why listen to it?

Because it’s a damn good pop record!

Jamison’s voice soars every song on the album and the album’s melodies are masterfully crafted, as well as masterfully remastered on the 2010 Rock Candy remaster. But while the album is without a doubt pop oriented, that doesn’t mean it’s completely devoid of Survivor’s patented AOR sound. Infact a handful of the songs on the album have gorgeous guitar solos in them such as “I Can’t Hold Back”, “Everlasting” “The Singer Not The Song” and “Broken Promises”. “The Singer Not The Song” has Jim Peterik shredding like a man with noting to lose while a simple yet catchy keyboard riff going off in the background. How that song was never issued as a single is simply beyond me, it could have gotten ridiculous radio play. The song “Popular Girl” harks back to the pop rock sound found on Caught In The Game, sounding similar to “Jackie Don’t Go” which was a personal favorite on that album. I honestly can’t find a single fault with the album, each of the songs are well produced, catchy and if taken for what they are are extremely enjoyable to listen to… Except maybe “The Search Is Over”. While this song is beloved by Survivor fans, I just can’t help but feel this is the only song that has aged badly on the album. And this is coming from an album with diabetes inducing amounts of cheese on it. But if you can get over the sappy lyrics, you’ll find that the song is rather enjoyable. I especially like the bridge for the song.The only other “flaw” some might have with the album is that it’s too 80’s… But you know what? I like the fact that it sounds dated for the most part.

The album has been considered an AOR masterpiece over the years and for good reason. The album was a huge success for Survivor and captured the zeitgeist of mid 80’s Pop Rock. While it sounds dated and cheesy by today’s standards, it’s still recommended that you give this album a listen or two. It established Jimi Jamison as the new front man for the band and showed off a newer, even more radio friendly sound for the band.

Rating: 8/10

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~Review by Nicholas~


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