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Jim Peterik Tag

Not that anyone noticed, but I’ve been scarce in these parts for the last month or so, due to a number of professional and personal things that required too much of what little brainpower and emotional fortitude I have left at this point in my life. But I missed yuhs, and hope to be back here doin’ my thing on a regular basis again, unless we have another one of those “storms of the century” that sends my house floating down the creek with me and my family (including our new cat) floating along with it.

By far the coolest thing I did in this period was officiate the nuptials of two good friends. To my utter shock, it was perfectly legal in the Commonwealth o’ PA to do so, long as I got “ordained” by an existing religious institution and did a couple other fellowshippin’-type things with the bride and groom prior to the big day. I even studied up on case law, a) to make sure such an enterprise was legit, and K. and B. would not discover, a decade down the line, that they’d been living in sin for ten years longer than they’d thought; and b) so that when K.’s parents asked me whether there was indeed lawyerin’-type precedent for a non-believing ex-Baptist like myself to hitch their daughter to B.’s wagon, I could answer unequivocally in the affirmative.


Howdy, everybody! Hope you’re all enjoying the last of your summer days, while I sit indoors and listen to ten artists who are likely never be found on the Top 10 — hell, probably the Top 40 — ever again. Let’s take a look back at the week ending August 28, 1982!

10. Take It Away — Paul McCartney Amazon iTunes
9. Wasted On the Way — Crosby, Stills & Nash Amazon iTunes
8. Vacation — Go-Go’s Amazon iTunes
7. Keep the Fire Burnin’ — REO Speedwagon Amazon iTunes
6. Even the Nights Are Better — Air Supply Amazon iTunes
5. Hard to Say I’m Sorry — Chicago Amazon iTunes
4. Hold Me — Fleetwood Mac Amazon iTunes
3. Abracadabra — Steve Miller Band Amazon iTunes
2. Hurts So Good — John Cougar Amazon iTunes
1. Eye of the Tiger — Survivor Amazon iTunes

10. Take It Away — Paul McCartney

I consider myself relatively well-versed in Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career (though I do not know a single song from Press to Play), and yet I think I need someone who knows his stuff a little better to explain what the difference is between this song — a Macca solo song from Tug of War — and a Wings song. Production-wise, this doesn’t sound much different from “Listen to What the Man Said.” But what do I know. “Take It Away” features Ringo on drums, who also appears in the video with Tug of War producer George Martin on piano. I didn’t like this song the first time I heard it, but like so many of his songs, I just can’t get it out of my head now.

9. Wasted On the Way — Crosby, Stills & Nash

In 1982, Crosby, Stills & Nash peaked here at #9 (their second highest charting single behind 1977’s “Just a Song Before I Go”), and also had a #18 hit with “Southern Cross.” Do you think they were thinking, “Hello, ’80s!”? Because that certainly didn’t happen. Not that it matters, but “Wasted On the Way” was their final Top 40 appearance.

Interesting story behind Daylight Again, the album containing the single: it was intended to be a Stills & Nash project, mainly due to Crosby’s never-ending drug problems. They went straight to the B-list for possible replacements, including Art Garfunkel and the Cryptkeeper Timothy B. Schmit, but the folks at Atlantic Records pretty much told ’em they had to get Crosby or the album wasn’t happening. Crosby and Nash tried to hold their ground, even paying for the recording sessions out-of-pocket, but eventually relented and asked Crosby to join the project. Personally, my imagery goes straight to Crosby in a Hawaiian shirt, being dragged on his back by his ponytail into the studio while eating a slice of pizza, never quite realizing what’s happening, and the scary thing is that it might not be far from the truth.

For all that I love harmony and acoustic music, I’ve never been much of a CSN fan. One of the guitarists in my band is always asking me why I don’t care for CSN, so I was excited to tell him that I actually like this one. You know what he said? “Oh, that one’s so wimpy.” I said, “…As opposed to what?” Either way, I do think this is a nice song. I think the instrumentation on the studio version is pretty much unnecessary; I like this live version from 1982 instead. You really do get the sense that Crosby has no idea where the hell he is. Check out the part where he makes the “shhh” motion, either to an already-quiet audience or the goblins doing a rain dance in his head. It doesn’t matter, though; they sound fantastic.

This is the final entry in our DbPB salute to Jim Peterik, and it is, I admit, an odd choice for a conclusion. “Above the Storm” is not Peterik’s best ballad; truth be told, I’m not all that fond of it, certainly not as fond as I am of Survivor’s “Desperate Dreams” or their unreleased “The Love We Never Made”  demo, or of Pride of Lions“Faithful Heart,” or .38 Special’s “Changed by Love,” or a score of other Peterik ballads I could have selected.

Why, then, choose “Above the Storm”? Indulge me, for a moment:

A week from tomorrow, I will have been a parent for ten years. That milestone and a recent event in my extended family got me thinking about perfectionism and parenthood, and how the twain never, ever meet. Oh, sure, I’ve had my moments. Like the time when Dylan was small and suffering from an ear infection, when I rocked him to sleep and, with that sleep, provided him some modicum of relief. I also felt pretty good recently, when he proudly showed off his new copy of the Guinness Book of World Records by showing me the entry for the woman with the world’s biggest breasts. He did this in front of his aftercare attendant, who proceeded to give him no small amount of grief before I took her aside and explained to her that the only thing funnier to a nine-year-old than boobs are farts, and if the Guinness Book of World Records could have passed gas, that’s what he would have shown me.

Truth of the matter is, I’ve screwed up, many times. All parents do. I’m going to do it again, probably as soon as I leave my office, and if not then, certainly in the next 24 hours. I’ve yelled when I should have been calm; chastised when I should have instructed; turned down an activity when I should have participated; let him down in several small ways that only occur to a parent after the fact.

We continue our DbPB salute to Jim Peterik with the most un-Survivor-like of Survivor songs.  Gather ’round the campfire, kiddies, as Creepy Camp Counselor Rob tells the tale of “You Know Who You Are.”

Once upon a time, back in 1988, Survivor put out one of their best records—an album called Too Hot to Sleep.  It was a cornucopia—nay, a veritable harvest—of melodic hard rock goodness, at a time when melodic hard rock was, as you kids say, tha shizznitFrankie Sullivan, the band’s resident hotshot guitar player, grew his blond locks out to lengths only the bassist in Cinderella could match, donned his finest leather outerwear, plugged into a couple Marshall stacks, and showed the hairspray-and-spandex crowd he could fingertap and whammy bar and WEE-diddle-diddle with the best of ’em.  Half the songs on the record are among the best singer Jimi Jamison ever lent his voice to, and he grew out his hair and donned the leather for the occasion also.  Jim Peterik was there, too, co-writing everything on the record, but looking rather uncomfortable on the album sleeve; he’s the only one not wearing leather.

Sounds great, huh, kiddies?  A sure-fire hit—the guys who brought you “I Can’t Hold Back” and “Is This Love,” not to mention “Eye of the Freakin’ Tiger” turn up their amps and take on the Bon Jovi wannabes, by going undercover as, well, Bon Jovi wannabes.  But it didn’t work.  For during this period, bands like Motley Crue and Poison stalked the earth, raping arenas and pillaging groupies, and they brought along a ton of lesser bands like Pretty Boy Floyd, Britny Fox, and Bang Tango to mop up what they left behind.  Listeners ignored Too Hot to Sleep in droves.

Our DbPB salute to Jim Peterik continues this week with “Strength Over Time,” by Sunstorm, a collective that’s not quite a band, and yet not quite not a band. Some explanation, of course, is in order.

Most listeners in the U.S. know Joe Lynn Turner either for his three-album stint in Rainbow (which yielded classic tracks like “I Surrender,” “Stone Cold,” and “Street of Dreams”) and his brief tenure in Yngwie Malmsteen’s band (which resulted in the album Odyssey and the hit “Heaven Tonight”). Upon leaving Rainbow, Turner recorded the requisite solo album, Rescue You, which found middling chart success, but was embraced heartily by AOR aficionados (the ballad “Endlessly” will one day have its own entry in this column).

A follow-up record was apparently prepared for but never recorded; or recorded but shelved; or partially recorded and partially shelved; or prepared for, recorded, shelved, removed from the shelf, dusted off, then re-shelved. Something happened — sources are iffy on what, exactly — but the phantom second JLT record never saw the light of day. Bootleg tapes of song demos intended for the record made the rounds of industry folks and journalists who traded in that kind of stuff, and eventually Serafino Perugino, the head of Frontiers Records (the European label that conducts its business as if Rainbow and their ilk were still packing arenas) procured a copy and urged Turner to revisit the songs.

The next few DbPB installments will feature the work of a man who, to these ears, has contributed as much as if not more than any other artist to the power ballad arts and the melodic rock genre in general”Jim Peterik.  Many know him as the voice and driving force (no pun intended.  Okay, maybe I intended it) behind “Vehicle,” the great 1970 single by Ides of March.  Many more know him as the bespectacled keyboard player and chief songwriter (along with Frankie Sullivan ) in Survivor.  Yeah, that guy.  “Eye of the Tiger.”  “I Can™t Hold Back.” “High on You.” “The Search Is Over.”

Ah, “The Search Is Over.”  How many makeout sessions/couple skates/lonely nights of the soul in ’84-’85 had that one as their soundtrack?  Survivor contributed many other fine, powerful ballads”“Man Against the World,” “Everlasting,” “Ever Since the World Began” (read about my personal relationship with that song here)”but none had all the weapons that made “Search” such a killer”the developing tension, the underlying power chords, the dramatic chorus and bridge, plea for redemption, the key change at the end.  The voice.

The voice is so important.  Peterik co-wrote a Survivor track called “It’s the Singer Not the Song””a sentiment I do not share”in part to focus attention on the band’s new singer at that time, Jimi Jamison.  While Survivor’s first vocalist, Dave Bickler, possessed a monster of an instrument”akin to a Paul Rodgers or a Steve Marriott”Jamison’s baritone was tailor-made for the commercial rock for which Survivor was best known in the mid-’80s.  He had strength to spare and could tackle a rough-hewn rock song, but was also versatile enough to lighten up when the music slowed down.  The Peterik/Sullivan ballads on Vital Signs, When Seconds Count, and Too Hot to Sleep were the perfect canvases on which Jamison could apply all the colors of his voice.