Album review: BILLY SQUIER – Emotions In Motion/Signs Of Life

BILLY SQUIER – Emotions In Motion/Signs Of Life

BGO Records

Two albums from Billy Squier’s classic 80’s period get a neat double CD re-issue. Not only of interest to fans of his work and 80’s US melodic rock, but also Queen fans as these two albums both feature various members of Queen. Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor guest as backing vocalists on Emotions In Motion, whilst Brian May pops up for a guitar solo on the ‘Signs Of Life’ album. Not only that, but Queen’s producer on their ‘The Game’ & ‘Hot Space’ albums Mack, also produced ‘Emotions In Motion’. Oh, and ‘Signs of Life’ had Jim Steinman in the producer’s chair, so plenty of well-known names in the music business at the time were involved across these two albums.

Both albums reached the upper end of the US Billboard album charts and reached platinum status for sales. Billy Squier certainly was at his peak both musically and commercially in the early to mid-80s.

‘Emotions In Motion’ is the rockiest of the two, with a few classic melodic hard rockers in ‘Learn How To Live’ and ‘Keep Me Satisfied’, which has some smoking guitar and piano playing. The Queen members lend their backing vocals to the title track, which has a slightly funky feel, perhaps no real surprise given that Mack produced Queen’s ‘Hot Space’ that same year and that album saw the band go down a funky/dance route.

‘Signs Of Life’ was a bit of a shock to fans at the time of its release as it relied more on synths than guitars, with renowned synths player & arranger Larry Fast involved on this album. That said, the album’s big hit single ‘Rock Me Tonite’ is a classic mix of rock guitar and 80’s synths.

In hindsight this album is not a million miles away from the sort of albums Saga were putting out in the 80s, reliant on synths but plenty of guitar still used and relevant to the songs. Prime example being ‘(Another) 1984’ which is chock full of synths and vocal effects (that’ll be the master of the OTT Jim Steinman at work then!), and features a Brian May guitar solo midway through. The rocking side of Billy Squier always shines through as ‘Can’t Get Next To You’ demonstrates, although there are a couple of clunkers on here including ‘Fall For Love’.

Billy Squier hasn’t released a new album since 1998’s blues based ‘Happy Blue’, although he still tours the US where he is best known. In fact now he’s more likely to be seen in New York’s Central Park where he looks after an area of the park as one of the park’s volunteers.

At under a tenner for two CDs, both digitally re-mastered, along with informative sleeve notes, this is will sit nicely in any collection of 80s melodic rock.

Review by Jason Ritchie




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