HUEY TUESDAY – a weekly dig through the archives of the only 80s band more interested in workin’ for a livin’ than being hip. But for every monster pop single, there was a deep album detour into new wave, ska, blues, reggae, a capella and instrumentals. Hip to be square, indeed! Have you really heard the News?
The boys’ 1991 album Hard at Play, by any yardstick, was the beginning of the end. There were a few minor hits and a whole lotta filler that sounds very much like … well, 1991. In fact, it was the only album in the band’s 30-year recording career that sounds dated.
It’s no surprise then that 1994’s Four Chords & Several Years Ago was such a palette cleanser. Packed with standards and deep root R&B classic, the News sounded happy again. And despite their hits collection Live at 25, Four Chords was actually the first time they played live in the studio, and you can tell.
Every single track chugs with the intimacy of being in the room with them – and yet, it’s the biggest sounding album they’ve ever released.
“Shake, Rattle and Roll” is a twelve bar blues-rock song, written in 1954 and covered by everyone from Big Joe Turner, and Bill Haley & His Comets, to Elvis Presley. It ranked at #127 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
And that’s why it opens Four Chords, as if Huey and the boys announced to the world, “We’re going this way if you wanna come along for the ride.”
And they did it live in one take.
Fun fact: listen closely to the end and you’ll hear Lewis’ manager Bob Brown shout his approval.