Album review: LOVERBOY – Wildside (Remaster)

Rock Candy Records [release date: 25.03.22]

Loverboy’s fifth studio album, again produced by the maestro, Bruce Fairbairn (RIP), has been remastered and reissued recently by Rock Candy Records.

When Fairbairn, Bob Rock and Mike Fraser are handling production, engineering and mixing, you know just what to expect. 3 dimensional rock songs just leap off the page…… Cultivated blasts of neatly orchestrated, nicely polished hard rock. With good tunes.

No doubt the label’s remastering boys and girls had the easiest gig ever.

On the other hand, there’s always the suspicion of a rockband in decline when they bring in outside writers. Collaborations with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Taylor Rhodes, Bryan Adams, Alfie Zappacosta, Brian (Too Loud) McLeod and song doctor, Todd Cerney pepper the tracklist. In fact only two songs are written by the band solely.
Doesn’t make them bad people of course.

The Bon Jovi/Sambora/Cerney/Dean/Reno opener, ‘Notorious’ was clearly the product of some focused songwriting. It’s got “Arena Rock Anthem” written through it like a stick of rock, even if the lyrics are so last century. The single version cracked Billboard’s North American charts – the USA and Canada – and stayed there for 14 weeks.
Otherwise, only the hooky ‘Love Will Rise Again’ and the jaunty, eighties-in-aspic ‘Hometown Hero’ get close to previous high watermarks.

Ultimately, relatively poor sales (gold v previous 4 albums’ platinum) led to to personal tensions within the band, and it broke up. A sad, if overly familiar cliché.

Wildside, the album, may not have set the charts alight, but it added to a significant if slim volume of Loverboy legacy albums. A body of work that just keeps on contributing to periodic “Best Of…” outings. ***

Review by Brian McGowan

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