PopEntertainment.com

It's all the entertainment you need!

 

FEATURE STORIES MOVIE REVIEWS MUSIC REVIEWS BOX SET REVIEWS TV SHOWS ON DVD CONTESTS CONCERT PHOTOS

 

  FEATURE STORIES
  INTERVIEWS A TO E
  INTERVIEWS F TO J
  INTERVIEWS K TO O
  INTERVIEWS P TO T
  INTERVIEWS U TO Z
  INTERVIEWS ACTORS
  INTERVIEWS ACTRESSES
  INTERVIEWS BOOKS
  INTERVIEWS DIRECTORS AND SCREENWRITERS
  INTERVIEWS MUSIC
  INTERVIEWS OSCAR NOMINEES
  INTERVIEWS THEATER
  IN MEMORIAM
  REVIEWS
  MOVIE REVIEWS
  MUSIC REVIEWS
  CONCERT REVIEWS
  BOX SET REPORT CARD
  TV SHOWS ON DVD
  MISCELLANEOUS STUFF & NONSENSE
  CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
  LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
  CONTESTS
  LINKS
  MASTHEAD
  EMAIL US

"WILD YEARS-THE MUSIC & MYTH OF TOM WAITS" BY JAY S. JACOBS

AVAILABLE IN BOOK STORES EVERYWHERE!

 

www.wbshop.com

PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Survivor

MUSIC REVIEWS

Survivor-Ultimate Survivor (BMG Heritage)

This Chicago band actually sprung from the ashes of early 70s one-hit wonders the Ides of March, remembered for the fun and funky rocker "Vehicle."  That one song to this day probably gets more airplay than the bigger hits that Survivor made their stock-in-trade in their giddy five year run as one of the biggest meat-and-potatoes singles bands of the arena rock era.

Their first shot over the bow of the pop charts was actually something of an oddity for the band.  "Poor Man's Son" seemed to be equally inspired by Styx and Springsteen, a blue-collar anthem anchored on a funky guitar and organ line.

This brought the group to the attention of the man who would become the band's mentor and benefactor for a few years... actor Sylvester Stallone.  He asked Survivor to write the theme to his movie Rocky III.  The song "Eye of the Tiger" became Survivor's only number one single and is still the song they are best remembered for.  It is a good enough song, definitely a classic of the period with its macho, pounding guitar lines and self-help book lyrics.  Listening to Survivor's compilation, though, you realize that it is far from their best song. 

The second single from their breakthrough 1982 Eye of the Tiger was much worse, "American Heartbeat" is everything that was wrong with 80s rock (generic beat, mullet-headed lyrics) distilled into a four minute chunk.  The follow-up album, 1983's Caught In the Game was something of a stiff, even though the title track (also included here) was actually one of the better pop-rock singles the band recorded.

The group didn't really hit its stride until their 1984 Vital Signs album.  That album's three hit singles were near perfect examples of the decade's arena rock.  "I Can't Hold Back" has the group "out-Journeying" Journey with a soaring, up-tempo love ballad that is simply gorgeous.  The giddy love popster "High On You" is also stunning in its simple hookiness.  Then they turned down the lights for the smoochy ballad "The Search Is Over," a song tailor-made for 10,000 swaying fans to hold up their lighters to.  Pleasantly, it is also one of the more memorable power ballads of the time, and has aged surprisingly well.

Everything after that was a bit of a let-down, though they did have a huge hit with another Rocky theme song ("Burning Heart" from Rocky IV was as unmemorable as the movie it was used in) and in "Is It Love?" they recorded one more near perfect love single.  The band never really recaptured the spotlight, and songs like the okay power ballad "Man Against the World" and the on-auto-pilot rocker "Didn't Know It Was Love" suggest that this wasn't all that unfair.  "Desperate Dreams" is the one later single here that sticks out as one that got away. 

I was a little disappointed to find one song missing here that I would consider a natural for this compilation; the band's "The Moment of Truth" was a minor hit from the film The Karate Kid.  However, other than that one omission, this is a good reminder of a solid, if sometimes overlooked 80s band.  (7/04)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 25, 2004.

RETURN TO RECORD REVIEWS MENU

Sharper Image

Copyright 2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 25, 2004.