Thirty years ago at this summer a young twelve-year-old blogger (me) was busily wearing out the vinyl of one of his favorite albums: Hi Infidelity, the break-through album by REO Speedwagon, a band who had achieved moderate levels of success during the 1970’s with songs like “Time For Me To Fly” and “Roll With The Changes”.
The release of Hi Infidelity catapulted the band from a local mid western act into a world-wide arena rock sensation selling an estimated 10 million copies and spending fifteen weeks at #1 on the Billboard album charts. Powered by the songs “Take it On The Run”, “Don’t Let Him Go” and the song that started the power ballad craze, “Keep on Loving You”, which became the band’s first #1 song.
REO Speedwagon has gone through a few line-up changes over it’s 44 year history (yes they’ve been rockin’ since the 1960’s) but still holds founding member Neal Doughty (keyboards/Hammond Organ) in it’s arsenal along with long time members Kevin Cronin (vocals, guitar), Bruce Hall (bass guitar) and the “babies” of the group: Dave Amato (21 years as lead guitarist) and Bryan Hitt (20 years on drums). Gone are the original members who contributed to the Hi Infidelity album: guitarist Gary Richrath (left in 1989) and drummer Alan Gratzer (retired).
Not surprisingly, the band is celebrating the 30th anniversary of this monumental event with the digitally remastered release of Hi Infidelity: The 30th Anniversary Edition.
What sets this 2 CD release apart from most other milestone reissues is what’s also included on disc two: The Crystal Demos – previously unreleased demo versions of nine songs from the album. Here, listeners actually get the opportunity to hear the “raw” sound of what was to become the biggest selling album of 1981. In addition, the CD package also contains liner notes from Kevin Cronin and long time guitarist Gary Richrath.
Hi-Infidelity’s accolades include:
* The highest-selling rock LP of 1981
* Has sold more than 10 million copies in the US
* On February 21, 1981; the album reached #1 on the Billboard album chart and remained at #1 for 15 straight weeks; over-taking John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” album. Not many bands can claim their record dethroned a Beatle.
* Remained on the Billboard 200 album chart for 101 weeks, unprecedented for an American rock band at the time
* The single “Keep on Loving You,” certified #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 21, 1981
* “Take it On The Run” and “Keep on Loving You” were one of the first videos that aired on MTV (#9 and #17 respectively)
REO Speedwagon is currently out on the road in support of their “new” record. As an bonus, in addition to all of the other hits they are known for, the band has also included at least six songs from the Hi Infidelity album into their set list. It’s the perfect opportunity for fans to hear most of this milestone record performed live.
There are plenty of reasons 80’s rock fans should revisit REO Speedwagon’s magnum opus. What’s even better: wearing out the polycarbonate plastic on this 30th Anniversary Edition is much harder to do than it was on the original vinyl. Be sure to check it out.
Article first published as 30 Years of Hi Infidelity on Technorati.