Huey Lewis & The News – Sports (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

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Review by David Waterfield

Universal

I think it’s fair to say that in the UK, Huey Lewis & The News’ third album Sports was a slow burner. Originally released in in September 1983 it was a full two years before the album charted here, eventually reaching number 23. Stateside it was a very, very different story. Sports reached number one on the Billboard album charts and gave Huey Lewis & The News five top 20 singles (four of them top 10) on the way to being certified ten times platinum. Remastered and reissued for the 30th anniversary of the original release – complete with a bonus disc of live material – Sports still sounds fresh today.

The band’s love of fifties Rock N Roll and R&B is writ large on many of the songs here, with opening track ‘The Heart Of Rock N Roll’ being a prime example. The day that there is no longer a place in the world for no nonsense, good time rock n’ roll like this then the gig is up and we might as well all pack up and go home. I could listen to this kind of thing all day! Likewise, strip away the production and ‘Bad Is Bad’ is basically a blues song, whilst the band’s breakthrough UK hit ‘If This Is It’ is essentially a doo-wop song at heart. The album’s lead single ‘Heart And Soul’ was written by the legendary song-writing partnership of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman and was originally a minor hit for the group Exile in 1981. Huey’s version doesn’t stray too far from Exile’s original but trims off the excess to make it more concise and punchy. It’s one of those rare occasions when the cover surpasses the original version.

At their heart Huey Lewis & The News are an honest, no frills Rhythm and Blues band, but on this album they gave their sound an eighties production sheen and embracing the emerging medium of music video went out there and sold it to the MTV generation. But what set Huey Lewis & The News apart from many of their contemporaries was that they were an audio band long before they were a video band. These guys could deliver the goods and they could play – a point which is emphasised by the live CD that accompanies this 30th anniversary release.

Sports saw Huey Lewis & The News come into their own musically and commercially with a strong collection of radio-friendly songs with memorable hook lines. Further success was to follow with their next album Fore! which gave the band three US number one singles, but it was ‘Sports’ that catapulted Huey Lewis & The News into the big league and provided the launch pad for all of that. Thirty years on and the Heart Of Rock N Roll is still beating…

8 out of 10

Track Listing:Huey Lewis & The News – Sports

  1. The Heart Of Rock N Roll
  2. Heart And Soul
  3. Bad Is Bad
  4. I Want A New Drug
  5. Walking On A Thin Line
  6. Finally Found A Home
  7. If This Is It
  8. You Crack Me Up
  9. Honky Tonk Blues
  10. The Heart Of Rock N Roll (live)
  11. Heart And Soul (live)
  12. Bad Is Bad (live)
  13. I Want A New Drug (live)
  14. Walking On A Thin Line (live)
  15. Finally Found A Home (live)
  16. If This Is It (live)
  17. You Crack Me Up (live)
  18. Honky Tonk Blues (live)