“Essential Billy Squier” by Billy Squier

Artist: Billy Squier
Title: “Essential Billy Squier”
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 3/29/2011
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 3.75/5

The earliest musical reference that I have when it comes to Billy Squier is that I used to jam out to the first album extensively and play both “The Stroke” and “Lonely Is The Night” in my band back in the day when one of the passions of youth was Rock and Roll stardom. I guess the next would be seeing him in concert as he supported the “Emotions In Motion” and “Signs Of Life” albums and how both of these tours gave me the chance to see Def Leppard and Ratt for the very first time. Well, most of them at least because we were all driven to the show by someone who wanted to miss those bands and made sure that we did as well. That being said I was intrigued to once again focus on the music of Mr. Squier because his early stuff was just so damned good. The new release is called “The Essential Billy Squier” and as you can imagine by its title is a hits compilation that sets out to remind the legacy fan and educate the newer one. It was without question that I was most interested in hearing remastered versions of the material from his second and third releases because in my humble opinion those are the best of them all, and fortunately we get four numbers from “Don’t Say No” and three from “Emotions In Motion”. To be honest they could have added a couple more from his sophomore release but that did get a 30th anniversary edition last year from Shout! Factory. The four tunes from “DSN” are seminal Hard Rock classics and one could hear both “The Stroke” and “Lonely Is The Night” again and again on Rock radio of the day. This preceded the likes of MTV but Billy would eventually be remembered forever with his video from the fourth album “Signs Of Life” with “Rock Me Tonite”; it was a video that has gone down in history as being one of the worst ever. Poor Billy. He never deserved that but it is just bad on so many levels even though it was a solid tune. The three tracks from “Emotions In Motion” I was totally fine with as I was not as crazy about it as some others were.

I will admit to not really following Billy’s career much after his fourth album and that is what makes the collection a little more interesting to me since it offers up some notable tunes from this time period. I was getting into the Motley Crue and Dokken stuff not long after it was released. The remastering on these original tracks sounds great and they still seem to pack the relevant punch that I remembered them having so many years ago. I am still a little bit stunned that “Don’t Say No” is thirty years old but I will save the additional whining about that for its inevitable review. As far as the overall presentation is concerned I did have a couple of faults with the release even though I felt that the collection was on the sound side in the end. The first is that is gives the listener one less track than the sixteen we found on the 1995 release “16 Strokes” by the same company. If anything this should have had more based on the capability of newer CD medium. The second issue that I found was in the limited nature of the booklet included which is a two page foldout. There is a single photo of Squier and a complete absence of historical liner notes which I always feel are necessary inclusions on a retrospective piece. In all honesty it’s the kind of release that I feel the buyer is probably better served by purchasing the digital download version only as opposed to adding it to your shelves as a physical piece. Believe me I never thought I was going to say that since I am all about the actual releases whenever possible.

This is still good enough to have if you miss the olden days of Heavy Rock when it was a genre that ruled the airwaves and it is no lie that Billy Squier was one of its most prominent leaders thanks to some of these tunes. Now if you will excuse me, I need to replay a couple of these songs at maximum volume and play some air drums.

Track Listing:
1. Everybody Wants You
2. The Stroke
3. Rock Me Tonite
4. In The Dark
5. Learn How To Live
6. My Kinda Lover
7. All Night Long
8. Emotions In Motion
9. The Big Beat
10. Lonely Is The Night
11. Eye On You
12. Love Is The Hero
13. She Goes Down
14. Don’t Say You Love Me
15. Angry

Official Website: http://www.billysquier.com

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