BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.
The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.
These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
Autograph’s Sign In Please (1984)
“Day time, night time/Things go better with rock/I’m going 24 hours a day/I can’t seem to stop.”
For anyone listening to the radio in early 1985 when the Autograph song “Turn Up The Radio” gave the band their signature (and only) hit, that lyric was a great summing up of how it was to be a rock fan in the mid-1980’s. The song is still a hard rock anthem to this day.
As for the album the track was released on, Sign In Please had a few good companion songs but nothing that compared to the celebratory anthem that made the band so memorable today. The debut album’s 1980’s production decision to add keyboards to everything in an attempt to give songs a glossy sheen left the band sounding what is today described as an AOR sound as opposed to a straight up hard rock sound.
Sometimes that keyboard heavy sound works, such as with the track “Night Teen & Non Stop”, but for the most part it robbed songs of an edge that the material could’ve used. But when they weren’t overwhelmed by the keys, songs like “Deep End” really shined. And despite the impossibly cliched novelty song title and lyrics to “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me” is a rather catchy rocker.
Steve Plunkett had a really cool voice with a full throated rasp that gave the band’s sound a little bit of roughness that didn’t get polished over. Unfortunately, the majority of the songs on the album just kind of fell flat.
As much as I enjoyed the big hit song when it was playing on the radio back in the day, the band quickly fell off my own personal radar after that. They didn’t have the staying power given the quickly growing slate of rock bands. But even with their status as a kind of one hit wonder band, you could do far worse than being remembered for “Turn Up The Radio”.
Notes of Interest: The band played 48 shows opening for Van Halen before they were even signed to a record label. They broke up in 1989 without ever really benefiting from the whole 80’s metal scene beyond “Turn Up The Radio.” However, guitarist Steve Lynch and bassist Randy Rand got the band back together in 2013. Steve Plunkett declined to take part in the reunion but gave his blessing as the band recruited a new singer and drummer.