SAMMY HAGAR – Turn Up the Music! (1989 EMI)
Turn Up The Music! is a compilation by EMI Special Markets. Translation: You know those cheap CDs that they sell at gas stations? That’s what this is. It has no booklet or liner notes, it runs at a brief 35 minutes and the tracks are not remastered. However I really enjoy this CD and here’s why.
Back in ’89, I got this album on cassette. I remember going to a pharmacy store to get acne medicine with my parents and this tape was sitting in their cheapie bin. Yep, I was so cool there at the pharmacy store with my folks buying zit cream. I remember seeing a girl there from my highschool on this particular trip. I was so embarassed. I always remember that detail when I listen to Turn Up The Music!
This was my first exposure to pre-“I Can’t Drive 55” Hagar. To this day I don’t know a lot about this stage of his career but mostly because those albums are hard to find on CD, not because I don’t dig the music. I lost this tape a while ago (probably in a Thunder Bay landfill), but it’s pretty easy to find the CD version online.
I know “Trans Am” and “Plain Jane” come from the Street Machine album (one that I do have). I love these two songs. I wish Van Halen covered “Trans Am” live, that would have been something. Eddie would have gone bananas on those cool guitar slides. “Plain Jane” is just a really cool Seger-esque song, based on piano and acoustic guitar on the verses. The bass line bops along and Sammy sings awesome.
“Iceman” is kind of an odd duck. It tries to be atmospheric and bluesy but it really only sizzles during the chorus. “Run For Your Life” was my second favourite song after “Plain Jane” and I am really glad to finally have this song back in my collection again. It’s really 70’s in this cheesy/cool Journey way. In fact Steve Perry sings on it.
“I’ve Done Everything For You” is also from the Street Machine remastered CD. This song, I am 110% certain, was not on my cassette original. It could be this is an extra track. Anyway, this pop rocker was a major hit for Rick Springfield later on, apparently.
Side two of the original cassette began with “Rock N’ Roll Weekend”. This is a cool fast rocker, another one that Van Halen would have sounded awesome covering. The lyrics are your typical “Been working hard all week, now the weekend’s here and it’s time to party lyrics.” And that’s fine, there’s always time to party. If I feel like listening to something more serious I already have all the Dream Theater albums….
“Turn Up The Music” is a fun rocker with a nice tuneful riff. There’s some nice Seger-ish piano backing this one too. “Urban Guerilla” is one I never liked much for its awkward riff. As far as hard rock goes, this is as heavy as Sammy’s ever been. This one is pure heavy metal, fast and brutalizing. If only it had decent production. Unfortunately the song is tinny and the hi-hat is maddeningly annoying.
“Love Or Money” is a fast over the top rocker, catchy and memorable as hell. The final track is also quite metallic in delivery, “Reckless”. Aside from the overused title, this one is loaded with charisma. It works great as a compilation closer. An organ riff keeps it grounded inside a solid pocket.
So there you go, 10 songs, a full 7 of them being worth owning to me. Maybe there is a better compilation of this material elsewhere, I really don’t know. I do own the really cool Essential Red Collection but most of these songs are not on there. There is a CD called The Best of Sammy Hagar that has 7 of these songs, but my second favourite song “Run For Your Life” isn’t on it.
Proceed with that in mind, and purchase accordingly. The original cover of the cassette, by the way, was the same picture as the Danger Zone album cover. Weird!