Loverboy’s self-titled debut album from 1980 is a perennial favourite of mine, one of the strongest debuts I ever heard from that period and the more time that passes the more immersed in and impressed by it I become. Nine very strong tracks that take the listener from the cocky swagger of the chunky, riff-laden opener ‘The Kid is Hot Tonight’ (a song that seems even more relevant in today’s instant celebrity world of American Idol, etc.) to the rockabilly twang of ‘Little Girl’ (Mike Reno’s vocals given a cool Elvis echo), the leering sexuality of ‘Prissy Prissy’, the Latin/jazz influence of ‘It Don’t Matter’, and the new wave edge to ‘Lady of the 80s’. All of it unified by a crisp, sharp and slightly-funky sound which - under the guidance of producer Bruce Fairbairn - achieves an almost perfect balance of heavy pop guitar and synth, fleshed-out with some lush backing harmonies (especially apparent on the hit single from the album, ‘Turn Me Loose’).
A lot of people at the time dubbed Loverboy as ‘dag rock’, and while they certainly looked a bit silly in their red pants and terry-towelling headbands, the quality and creativity in their music always made them seem cooler to me than the likes of Styx, Journey and REO Speedwagon, with which the band were often lumped. And their name, Loverboy, was intriguing and sexually ambiguous, as was the album cover, which featured artist/photographer Barbara Astman as a skinny, androgynous figure smoking a cigarette. Maybe it was their Canadian heritage which gave them that bit of a leading edge.
Will never go down as one of rock's great or influential debuts, but it's entertaining as hell and, of its type, almost faultless.