Don’t Say No
All right, let’s get this out of the way first. Watch this video, then proceed to the rest of the post.
You back? Well, it should be painfully obvious after watching that horrific video why Billy Squier is now playing obscure Indian casino’s in the back woods of Oregon. A combination of his unfortunate choice of wardrobe and sensitive frat-boy dance moves doomed him to this fate, I shit you not. But there was an album this dude made that stands the test of time and, listening to it almost 31 years later, I am still amazed that this guy wasn’t bigger than he was, crappy homo-erotic video aside.
Like everyone else I came to B.S. (as he’s known by his friends) via his old band Piper…nah, that would mean at some point I would have had to have listened to a Piper album sometime during my life, which I most definitely have not. No, it was the song The Stroke. That song was everywhere, man, and it was good. It’s either a song about masturbation, or hand jobs, and I can’t believe that the stiff (!) suits at the radio conglomerates back then let the thing get as massive (!) as it did. The parent album, Don’t Say No was a success as well spawning no less than 4 hit singles and one minor one in ’81. In The Dark, The Stroke, My Kinda Lover and Lonely Is The Night were the biggies, the minor one being the title track. As many have said, Squier is ‘80’s rock personified, but in a good way. Not as boorish as Sammy Hagar and not as pop as, say, Rick Springfield, Squier had his own thang goin’ on. He befriended the members of Queen, particularly Brian May who was set to produce this album at one point, but due to other obligations was unable to fulfill that commitment. Instead, May pointed him in the direction of Mack (who produced The Game for Queen), and Mack delivered a highly polished, powerful record full of hooks to the world. It had a bit of a new wave-ish sheen about it as well, which is the reason I think it holds up so remarkably after all these years. As a side note, he has some punk rock credentials as well, cutting his teeth in bands with Klaus Flouride of the Dead Kennedys and Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls. So there.
I was 13 when this album was released, just the right age for an album like this, I reckon. I bought the next one, 1982’s Emotions in Motion, but other than the title track and the great “oh poor me I’m a star now” song Everybody Wants You, the record just didn’t do it for me.
Don’t Say No joins the ranks of great one-off albums, of which there are plenty, especially from the ‘80’s.