In the ’80s when I was still living in Germany, you couldn’t switch on the radio without encountering Huey Lewis And The News. By the end of that decade, I think it’s fair to say their popularity had significantly decreased. Just recently, I was reminded of the band when it was, well, back in the news, revealing a new single and their upcoming 10th studio album scheduled for next year. That announcement came after Huey Lewis revealed last April he was suffering from hearing loss as a result of Ménière’s disease. According to Wikipedia, it’s an incurable disorder of the inner ear, which leads to a variety of symptoms, including vertigo, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss and a fullness in the ear. The condition forced Lewis to cancel all upcoming tour dates.
I started paying attention to Huey Lewis And The News when they released their third studio album Sports in September 1983. The record, which yieled four top 10 hits in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100, catapulted the band to international stardom. I got the album on vinyl at the time and really dug it. I like the group to this day and saw them first in the ’80s in Germany and a second time in July 2011 at a local theatre in New Brunswick, N.J. The second show was in the wake of their last studio from 2010, Soulsville, a nice tribute to artists and music of Stax Records. The band still sounded great. I thought it would be fun putting together a playlist featuring some their songs.
I’d like to kick things off with Do You Believe In Love, the first top 10 hit for Huey Lewis And The News on the Billboard Hot 100. Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, it appeared on their sophomore album Picture This from January 1982.
On to the aforementioned hugely successful Sports. How successful? How about seven times Platinum! Records selling like this simply no longer exist these days. Here is the great opener The Heart of Rock & Roll. Co-written by Huey Lewis and the band’s co-founding member, guitarist and saxophone player Johnny Colla, the uptempo pop rocker showcases Colla’s nice sax chops.
Next up is The Power Of Love, which gave the band their first no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Co-written by Lewis, Colla and lead guitarist Chris Hayes, it’s probably their best known song, largely because it was featured in the 1985 blockbuster motion picture Back To The Future staring Michael J. Fox. Here’s a clip with footage from the film, one of the most memorable of that decade, in my opinion.
In August 1986, Huey Lews And The News released their fourth studio album Fore! Not only did the album top the Billboard 200, but it also gave the band two additional no. 1 hits: Jacob’s Ladder and tune I’d like to feature here: Stuck With You, a co-write by Lewis and Hayes. In addition to Lewis’ lead vocals, the song nicely illustrates the News’ great harmony singing.
The band’s next album Small World from 1988 featured a full-blown horn section, giving it a nice soulful vibe. But while the record climbed into the top 20 on the Billboard 200, it wasn’t as successful as Fore! and Sports. Here’s Perfect World, a tune written by Alex Call, guitarist, vocalist and founding member of a country rock band called Clover, in which Lewis had played with Call from 1972 until 1979, prior to forming Huey Lewis And The News.
In 1993, the band recorded a beautiful a cappella cover of the Curtis Mayfield tune It’s All Right for a tribute album titled People Get Ready: A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield. It’s another impressive illustration of the News’ vocal harmony abilities. Mayfield wrote the song in 1963 and recorded it with his band The Impressions for their eponymous debut record that came out in August that year. Feel free to snip along!
For the next tune, I’d like to jump to the News’ most recent album, the aformentioned Soulsville that was released in October 2010. Here’s the band’s great take of Respect Yourself. It features gospel singer Dorothy Combs Morrison who is sharing vocals with Lewis. Co-written by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice, the song was first recorded by The Staple Singers for their 1972 album Be Altitude: Respect Yourself.
The last track I’d like to highlight is the band’s new single Her Love Is Killing Me, a nice rocker with a bluesy touch, featuring a great sounding Lewis on vocals and harmonica, the band’s first new tune in more than a decade. According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, the song was recorded and produced by the News at their own studio in San Rafael, Calif. In addition to Lewis, the band still includes three co-founding members: Colla, Bill Gibson (drums) and Sean Hopper (keyboards). The title and exact timing for the new album have not been announced yet.
Will fans be able to see Huey Lewis And The News on the road again? While Lewis, who is 69 years old, obviously was able to record the song and sounds well, the prospects for doing concerts look less certain. “My hearing fluctuates episodically from bad to almost deaf,” Lewis told the Chronicle. “When it’s simply ‘bad,’ with the use of my earpieces, I can hear speech. I’m hoping fluctuating is a good sign and I can improve enough to hear music and sing.” He also said, “I haven’t sung with the band in a year and 10 months.”
Sources: Wikipedia, San Francisco Chronicle, YouTube
8 thoughts on “My Playlist: Huey Lewis And The News”
Meine Lieblingsband sind die nie gewesen, aber ein paar Lieder gehen in Ordnung. Wer auf geradlinigen, soliden Mainstreamrock steht, ist hier an der richtigen Adresse.
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Natuerlich muss ich Dir hier vollkommen Recht geben, dass Huey Lewis and the News in den Mainstream fallen.
Neben Lewis Stimme hat mir immer gut gefallen, wie diese Band Elemente von Blues, Soul und Rock mit Pop kombiniert hat. Ausserdem kann ich nach zwei besuchten Konzerten bestaetigen, dass die Truppe ein wirklich guter Live Act war.
Es ist schon bitter, dass Lewis nun mit Hoerverlust konfrontiert ist. Der Mann hatte sicherlich noch Benzin im Tank und ist mit 69 Jahren auch noch nicht so alt. Nun ist seine Zukunft zumindest als auftretender Kuenstler sehr fraglich. Schade, ich haette ihn und die Band gerne noch einmal gesehen!
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Huey Lewis und seine News bleiben für mich nostalgische Klassiker: flotte, eingängige Rockmusik, die einen über einen lauen Sonntag- oder blauen Montagmorgen hinweghilft. Freilich ist es heute müssig zu fragen, ob der gute Huey sich ab und zu selber kopierte oder zum Mainstream abdriftete.
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I always liked these guys. Michelle who visits my site says they used to kick ass live more than they did on record. You can’t beat “The Heart of Rock and Roll.” Perfect tune to bop to. Also, “Workin’ for a Livin'” is a great one if you don’t know it. I featured it a while back. Also “I Want a New Drug,” and his duet with Gwyneth Paltrow, “Cruisin'” is pretty good. You doubtless know that Clover (minus Huey) was Elvis Costello’s backup band on his debut album. Damn. I have to go out tonight and it looks like there’s some Huey to listen to. Damn shame about his hearing especially for a musician. A guy in my son’s band has a similar problem which is why they call it Pray for Sound.
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Thanks. Based on the two times I’ve seen Huey Lewis and the News, I think I agree with Michelle – they are even more fun live than they are in the studio. And, yep, I know and dig Workin’ For A Livin’ – in fact, I was between that tune and the song a chose from the Picture This album: Do You Believe In Love.
I actually had not known about the Elvis Costello connection until I read about Clover. Though Lewis and Alex Call were not part of Costello’s backing band on his studio debut.
Last but not least, yes, hearing loss is probably as tough as it gets when you’re a musician. At least Lewis was still able to record new music. Apparently, his hearing issues vary.
I listened to “This is Huey Lewis” compilation on Spotify tonight. They are more ’50s and doo-wop than I realized. Their “Live at 50” has some nice stuff. “It’s Alright” – which i think is a Sam Cooke tune -is just good time slow-jam partying. And I’d completely forgotten “Bad is Bad.” Definitely need to add some of these to one of my playlists. BTW, I don’t know if you follow KamerTunes but he just did Huey too debut album.
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Their version of It’s Alright is one of the tunes I included in my post!😀
It’s actually a Curtis Mayfield tune he recorded with The Impressions for their 1963 debut album – great song and a fantastic a cappella cover by Huey Lewis and the News. In addition to being capable musicians, these guys can harmonize!
And, yep, I follow Kamer’s blog. And now that you mentioned it, I do recall seeing his post about the News’ debut. I don’t know that record as well as the Picture This, Sports, Fore! and Small World albums. The Stax tribute Soulsville is pretty good as well.
That Live at 25 album sounds pretty good.