Picks and Pans Review: Wildside

updated 10/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Loverboy

This sure doesn't sound like Loverboy, an overbaked Canadian rock band lead by Paul Dean and Mike Reno. Not at first, anyway. Wildside kicks off with Notorious, a vigorous romp written with members of Bon Jovi. Darrell Mansfield's harmonica cuts through the song like a saw. The momentum carries over into the second tune, Walkin' on Fire. Reno's voice hasn't lost its intensity, but, for once, it seems under control. The gale force his vocals usually generate has settled into a nice nor'easter. There is also a guitar blitz that would have driven Churchill to surrender. Producer Bruce Fairbairn gives these songs a spirited pace and sincerity previously absent from Loverboy's music. Come to think of it, Fairbairn polished another Canadian group, Honeymoon Suite, on their Big Prize album. The only problem in both cases is that Fairbairn's touch only seems to last through a few songs. Alas for Loverboy, that means inflated production numbers like Love Will Rise Again. It also means that there's piffle, such as Break It to Me Gently and the hyper title track. At least further down the line, when the members of Loverboy pack it in, they can look back at this record and know they really had something going there. For a little while. (Columbia)

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