Tell the Truth, Billy Squier's final album for Capitol Records, proved to be heartbreaking experience for the rocker. Tragically, one can only guess why the label even chose to release this record. The following theories spring to mind. Perhaps the album was a tax write off, a favor to Squier, or, worse, released to fulfill the singer's contractual obligation (which sometimes proves to be a cheaper proposition rather than buying the artist out of his/her deal). Released at a time when Squier's public profile was, shall we say, less than stellar, the label chose to completely overlook the album. To make things worse, in the wake of the Seattle explosion, Capitol had just experienced another changing of the guard. Surprisingly, apart from its god-awful artwork (Squier's concept), Tell the Truth isn't a half bad record. Squier has always had a special place in his heart for the album, claiming it to be one of his proudest artistic achievements. And there's something to be said for that. Produced by Blondie and Pat Benatar knob-man Mike Chapman, the album doesn't sound too dated today. The record also featured some other anomalies for the singer. For one, it was recorded literally all over New York City. Tracking songs at Magic Shop, The Power Station, and Clinton, and later overdubbing them at Electric Lady, RPM, and others, it's clear that a lot of work went into this. Lovingly recorded and mixed by future superstar producer Kevin Shirley, the album definitely has its moments. The melancholic "Lovin' You Ain't So Hard," the AC/DC meets Squier of old "The Girl's All Right," and "Breakdown" are all worthy efforts. "Angry" is self-explanatory, as is "Lovin' You Ain't So Hard." Again, it's a real shame that this record came out a time when bands like Soundgarden were the talk of the town. As a result, the album's timing couldn't have been worse. If you're a Squier fanatic, the ironically named Tell the Truth (perhaps jab at Capitol?) is a bookend worth having. If you're not a die hard, stick with the essential Don't Say No and Emotions in Motion.
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AllMusic Review by John Franck