Monday, April 27, 2015

Forgotten Bands Of The 80's-Streets

Steve Walsh was the voice behind Kansas from the beginning up till 1980 when he took off in a more rock direction, or perhaps he was tired of Kerry Livgren's Christianity lyrics that was Audio Visions although Walsh did participated in Seeds Of Change, Kerry's 1980 solo album that also had Ronnie James Dio on  a couple tracks.  Nevertheless creative differences was cited and Walsh made a fairly decent solo effort before joining with Mike Slamer a fairly decent guitarist that had more flash than substance it seems.  Billy Greer played bass and the underrated Tim Gehrt played drums.  And thus Streets were born.

While Kansas moved up with the Elefante brothers, it's hard to tell who rocked harder in 1983, Kansas' Drastic Measures or Streets 1st, both co produced with Neil Kernon (Hall And Oates) who added loud drums to the mix.  Released on Atlantic, 1st I think gets the nod, it's a bit more metallic than Kansas and they had one of my favorite singles of that time If Love Should Go which I'm surprised didn't do better than a poorly number 87 showing on the charts (the local chart had it higher and it did get airplay on the major radio stations).  Basically Atlantic didn't show a lot of promotion nor interest in this band and the album made its way to the cut outs within months.  Overall, the album owes more to hard rock, elements of Bad Company and Foreigner with Slamer's Van Halen type of leads.  Not original sounding but they could be entertaining. A later 1983 concert was issued via King Biscuit which basically is their first album plus a couple tracks played to a receptive crowd.  Worth searching for if you can find it, King Biscuit Radio for a time in the 1990s put out live albums of selective bands and Streets was one of them.  And the sound quality is quite good.

By 1985, Streets were already forgotten, and their next album Crimes In Mind shows them going for the hair metal sound and falling short of expectations.  Don't Look Back paled in comparison with If Love Should Go for a single, and it bombed but it is one of the better songs on this album.  Beau Hill (Ratt) opted for that hair metal sound and it didn't suit the style of Walsh, who sounds strained on some of the songs and channels his inner Lou Gramm on the ballad Broken Glass.  It does sound like second rate Foreigner even on the rockers I Can't Wait or Desiree and hair metal guitar leads do date themselves.  Crimes In Mind was the final effort as Streets broke up and Steve Walsh returned to Kansas a couple years later with Billy Greer replacing Dave Hope on bass.  The 1987 album Power owes more to Streets than prog rock from what I remembered of it, the only thing I can remember is the sappy Can't Cry Anymore ballad that ends that album.  Walsh would remain in Kansas till he retired from the band in 2014.

If nothing else, Streets started out promising but as MTV and hair metal became more and more popular, it was oblivious that Atlantic was trying to turn them into something like Twisted Sister or Ratt and it didn't pay off.  Still their classic rock moment remains If Love Should Go, a song that should be played a lot more times like the other songs of that time but you never hear even on pay radio.  It's a shame really, it's a great song but too bad that Walsh and company didn't have another song like that in them.  But at least Walsh could return to his day job and day band and continue to sell out arenas and state fairs.   In other words, a side project of a band that never really took off.


1st (Atlantic 1983) B+
Crimes In Mind (Atlantic 1985) C+
King Biscuit Live (King Biscuit/BMG 1997) B 

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