Youthquake – Dead or Alive

DeadOrAliveYouthquakeRelease Year: 1985

Rating: 7/10

I don’t hide my love for 80’s music. Though not all of it is great, it’s fun and has the ability to put you in a good mood. This feeling is what you get with Dead or Alive’s second album. There’s nothing particularity fantastic or groundbreaking here, just nine songs made to get you dance. And even though it’s not the greatest dance music of the era, it’s still something you can easily have fun with. Imagine my surprise when I found DOA songs I liked that were not singles.

One thing to know if you decide to give this a whirl is the songs deal with love and dancing. That’s it. Infamous singer Pete Burns switched between the two subjects he likes the most I guess. That said, of course the one song everyone knows somehow is “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” This has got to be one of the best cheesy ’80s singles yet. It has this fun, disco music vibe to it, with weird throbbing vocals from Burns. It’s no question that the hook of “You spin me right round, baby” gets stuck in your head as soon as you hear it. But one thing I discovered about the track is it’s a little creepy. The opening lyrics find Burns asking a potential mate “Well if I, could trace your private number, baby.” People get private numbers for a reason, so you don’t bother them. I guess Pete doesn’t get this. Also, later he talks about “moving in a little bit closer.” Is it just me or does he start to sound like a stalker here? Still, it’s a fun pop song.

Another song that’s weird lyrically is “I Wanna Be a Toy.” You can already see from the title that the content might be a little questionable. The way Burns talks about wanting to be created and wanting to be used makes it sound like he either wants to be a hooker or a sex toy. I’m not sure which it is and I don’t want to know. It’s a decent song, but one that’s ultimately forgettable. “DJ Hit That Button” is a really fun song with upbeat trumpets playing throughout, which gives the listener a new element to the band’s music. This is one of those songs that wants nothing more than to make you dance and it works. This song could’ve easily become a good single for them because it’s just about having a good time.

Things get kind of odd on both “Big Daddy of the Rhythm” and “Cake and Eat It.” Again, both are decent songs, but neither of them are that interesting. The first one has sort of catchy, generic dance club music while Pete Burns sings with an awkward melody. The addition of harmonies on the chorus is a nice touch, but the way they shout “big, big daddy of rhythm” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, rather it sounds clumsy. The second song is better than the former with the airy pipes during the intro and the soft chimes creating an exotic vibe. Burns’ singing is more fun with him adding an inflection at the end of each line. But what makes it weird is the repetition of the phrase “cake and eat it too.” It just doesn’t sound very good. It may take a few tried, but it will eventually sink its claw in you and get you moving.

Aside from the opening number, the cheesiest, but fun song on the record is “Lover Come Back to Me.” Again, the music is catchy and gets you moving and it has this great upbeat energy. What gives it its cheesiness are some of the lyrics: “I’ve been lying here so lonely/I’ve been wishing you would telephone me./Oh I just can’t lose this desperation.” For some reason when the band shouts “Lover come back to me” it brings the cheese full circle. I’m not sure what is, probably how they’re singing it, but overall it’s a fun track and another one of their singles that deserves more attention.

The LP ends with the lengthy “It’s Been A long Time.” Like most of the tracks here, this one is tolerable at best. The biggest flaw of it is the length. At eight minutes it’s just too damn long. It’s another dance song with several musical shifts that catch your attention. But there are some parts that are stretched out longer than they need to be like some of the solos. There are so many moments when Pete’s not singing and it gets boring after the four minute mark. I suppose it’s ambitious, but doesn’t hit the mark.

Overall, the album gets 7/10. Again, it’s not the best dance album from the era, but if you’re looking for some cheesy ’80s goodness to put you in a good mood then this is something to put on. While it is good to know the band had good songs aside from their singles, most of them are forgettable. There are a few that stand out, but most are just okay. The goal of the record seems to be getting people dancing. If this is the case then Dead or Alive at least got something right.

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