Billy Squier

Don’t Say No (Capitol/EMI ’81) Rating: A
This fun album offers no frills, straightforward early '80s hard rock. Although Squier sounds like Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, albeit a much less masculine version, Squier’s songs are far more likely to be carried by synthesizers (or piano/keyboards) along with some of the flat-out best guitar riffs of the 1980s. Granted, his unsubtle lyrics will likely never win over the critics, but Squier does show a more reflective side on the poignant ballad “Nobody Knows.” Besides, catchy hard rocking tunes, not lyrics, are this album’s primary selling point, so I’d advise you to instead concentrate on the awesomely funky riffs of “The Stroke” or the majestic power chords that propel “Lonely Is The Night.” On the latter track, as well as on the almost as memorable “In The Dark” and “Too Daze Gone,” Squier shows an ability to deliver atmospheric dynamics (the rhythm section, in particular drummer Bobby Chouinard, is top notch) in addition to stellar riffs, while “My Kinda Lover” has the album’s most undeniable chorus, though it has plenty of competition (all of the aforementioned songs got radio airplay back in the day, it should be noted). Fast, unfussy songs like “You Know What I Like” and “Whadda You Want From Me” are comparatively minor but are also unpretentious and fun, as is the slower, slinky funk ballad “I Need You” and the catchy, rollicking title track. Perhaps its dated synth sounds traps the album in the early 1980s to a degree, but over 30 years later this underrated release can still provide 38 minutes of hard rocking pleasure. Don’t say no, you won’t regret it! (P.S. Subsequent Squier hits included "Everbody Wants You" and "Rock Me Tonite," but the inexplicably horrendous (if unintentionally hilarious) video to the latter song effectively killed Squier's career, or at least prematurely relegated him to the oldies circuit.)

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