Liner Notes, III: Fore! by Huey Lewis and The News

By John F. Guido

Via Amazon

Hi, my name’s John. This is Liner Notes. You should listen to this.

When Huey Lewis and The News released their album Sports in 1983, they really came into their own, commercially and artistically…

…And now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, we can proceed with as little references to American Psycho as possible. In all seriousness, Sports did in fact propel Huey Lewis into the mainstream, launching the moderately successful band into international success. Following three years later, Fore! cemented Huey Lewis and The News’ position as a pop culture icon.

So what exactly is it that Fore! offers? A possible answer – and most prominent from the moment that album starts – is the sound. It’s clean, crisp, sharp. It screams of a professional touch, and sound editing, and a high budget spent on making sure the album reaches the highest technical specifications (of 1986 at least). What’s more, Fore! is a commercial dream, absolutely chock full of pop-rock guitar riffs, synths, feel-good keyboard licks, etc. Putting it simply, Fore! is extremely palatable, something made to chart and be as well-received as possible without exactly breaking the mold.

Normally, this would make for standard pop fodder; something perfectly average, but not memorable. Yet, Fore! bucks that trend. Beneath the shiny, plastic surface, there’s a surprising amount of depth to be had. Lewis and The News use all the studio-finessing to their advantage, enhancing their sound rather than allowing themselves to be washed out underneath all the editing. Lewis’ rough vocals have a appealing amount of soul to them, a nice touch of grit after the cleanliness of the rest of the album. There’s a charisma to everything that seems genuine, devoid of focus-group approved imagery and fronts. It’s proof that you can be a pop band without selling out, losing too much of yourself.

Moreover, the album has an encouraging lack of “filler” tracks. Like Patrick Bateman says – last reference, I swear – people really should listen to the lyrics. The songs are catchy enough that it’s easy to disregard their message as relatively meaningless, but in certain cases there’s a refreshing bit of heart lingering in the lines. Are they all poetic epics or cultural or artistic milestones? No. But they don’t have to be.

Pros:

The sound of the band cleaned up a bit and presented in a nice package.

The tracks all have a nice touch of heart that keep them from being generic pop songs.

Cons:

A select few tracks all sound the same.

Stand Outs:

“Hip to Be Square”

“Doing It All For My Baby”

“Naturally”

“Forest For The Trees”

When to Listen to It:

When you brutally axe a pretentious yuppie.

A pick me up for when your Dorsia reservations don’t pan out.

(I’m sorry I had to)

Long Plays / Reissues:

So by Peter Gabriel

Genesis by Genesis

Minute by Minute by the Doobie Brothers

John F. Guido is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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