Normally I would place an album cover for illustration at right that closely if not perfectly matches the piece of music spotlighted in this weekly feature. However, in this case I'll hope you can forgive and perhaps even applaud my decision to make an exception for the glorious example of cover art I'm selecting instead. When Steve Walsh left American progressive rockers Kansas in 1980, he was none too pleased with the singularly Christian direction in which founder and main songwriter Kerry Livgren was taking the band. Apparently Walsh wanted revenge on a number of levels, but his most (and simultaneously least) successful gesture in that regard must be the jaw-dropping cover to his 1980 solo debut, Schemer-Dreamer. In his eagerness to rock out on his own terms, Walsh clearly must have entered some strange new dimension of manic, irony-oblivious hysteria. What else can explain the comic-books-on-steroids images on this cover, which take the general idea of the '70s public service announcement Indian with a tear in his eye and turn it on its ear - in a similar way that Walsh had been known to cavort on stage (often shirtless and gym shorts-clad) while playing his keyboard. However, instead of a musical instrument or even a simple plea for more responsible stewardship of the earth, the weapons of choices here are shades and two massive hand cannons.
Wow. I mean wow. I would add a comment that insists there's nothing further that can be said, but clearly I'd be contradicting that immediately with the verbosity above. Maybe I've already more than pushed my luck, but allow me to continue, this time considerably if begrudgingly more on topic. Following Walsh's debut solo effort, he formed a guitar-centric AOR band called Streets that generated moderate success with two mid-'80s albums. "If Love Should Go" is probably one of the best of the group's songs during this period, which is not to say it's much more than a competent slab of arena rock. Walsh no doubt possesses a powerful voice, but he's also definitely always fallen into the category of mainstream rock vocalists whose passionately high range can come off as cloying at times. But let's not rush to pile on Walsh here like an opponent in one of the vintage wrestling matches for which his album cover attire is so appropriate. The ultimate question here for our purposes is whether or not this Streets track is worthy of recommendation as a bona fide '80s gem. The answer to that may remain somewhat unclear, but such is not the case with the answer to this more immediate question: What the hell was he thinking?
- Listen to "If Love Should Go" in its entirety here.
- Worthy But Underrated Arena Rock Songs of the '80s
- Top Kansas Songs of the '80s
- Top Survivor Songs of the '80s
Album Cover Image Courtesy of the gods (er... I mean Sony Records)