Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grooves: The Hooters - Amore (1983)

Philadelphia, PA. One of the greatest musical cities in the country. From the golden age of doo wop to modern indie rock, Philadelphia always oozes with some great tunes. In the 80's, The Hooters were the darlings of Philadelphia. Growing up, it was impossible to avoid "All You Zombies" or "And We Danced" on the airwaves. Hometown heroes are always well played on local stations and luckily The Hooters created some decent pop hits in the 80's. I would never have gone out of my way to own a Hooters record, but a friend recently gave me some smooth tunes on vinyl as a gift and i am obligated to write about the records in my collection. Amore, the first album by The Hooters will not get glazed over just because it was a gift and not something I would buy. Vinyl gifts are my favorite kind because they make you listen to something you may not have gotten for yourself. That's the joy of records. They are easy gifts, they are great gifts to receive (even as a gag) and you open your eyes to something you wouldn't usually go out of the way to research. The Hooters are the perfect example of this.

Having zero knowledge of the band beyond their hits and Philadelphia's love of their hometown boys, I have to do some research here. Amore was The Hooters debut record and surprisingly was released independently. It's an EP of eight tracks, half of which would be re-recorded for future records. It's all of 25 minutes long. It's impressive that a band in the 80's self-produced their debut to great success. The EP was a hit in Philadelphia selling over 100,000 records. Clearly, The Hooters hit the ground running, launching their career.

Amore kicks off with the titular track, a poppy, kitschy love song. It's got a good hook but it sounds more like a cheap rip off of Duran Duran. The sax solo is the highlight of "Amore." "Blood From a Stone" is the first of several tracks that got re-done on future albums. It's much ore like a Hooters song than "Amore," sounding like the precursor to "And We Danced." The guitars drive this track and we're treated to a fantastic Casio-sounding solo halfway through. Fantastic in a cheesey sense. "Hanging On A Heartbeat" has a different structure, bordering on ska but filtered through the gloss of 80's excess. It's relatively forgettable. We finally get to "All You Zombies." And much different than anything that proceeded it, it's a far step forward in sound. However, it's a version that most would not be used to. It's a tad faster in tempo and a totally different vocal track than fans of the song would be used to. It still is by far the best song on this EP thus far, even though it's not the single version. It's much shorter too, which is a shame as it being the best of the tracks on the EP, you don't want it to end.

Side two starts off with "Birdman," which starts off with an XTC sounding intro. A drum machine churns out an interesting beat as the band plays a very staccato riff. It kicks into a Police like reggae riff. It's easily one of the more interesting songs on the EP. Musically it's much more dynamic than most of the first half. The bass line is a meandering, funky groove. It's an amalgam of 80's sounds that works really well. "Don't Wanna Fight" is another ska infused new wave track, but only moderately. It's far too slow of a song to get a groove going and too upbeat to really be a good power ballad. "Fightin' On The Same Side" starts off sounding like a goofy, carousel music and it doesn't move past that. It's a catchy enough tune, but it's pretty forgettable for the most part, like much of this album. The closer, "Concubine," follows suit. These songs are all structured well and the music is well played, but lyrically and musically in general, it's all kind of boring. None of these songs are necessarily bad, but aside from "All You Zombies" and "Birdman," it's relatively forgettable 80's pop music fare.

Record collections are almost never complete without a few misfits. Everyone grabs albums they later don't go back to. When something is 5 cents, it's hard to say no. The one thing I can take away from The Hooters Amore is that it's relatively impressive for a band to self produce and release a record to such a cult following. Most of these songs would go on to be re-recorded behind major label backing and the bumps on the EP definitely are worked out, especially in the much more intense future version of "All You Zombies." The Hooters are a local favorite of Philadelphia, but Amore is not the way to go for a casual fan. But hey, if it's a gift or its 5 cents, definitely check it out. You don't have much to lose.

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