Honeymoon Suite

The Big Prize

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Like Journey's Escape, Big Prize is a choice piece of mall rock. Crisply produced by fellow Canadian Bruce Fairbairn, who went on to greener pastures with Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, the album benefits from one of the greatest kickoffs in history with "Bad Attitude." Drums and keyboards date '80s rock, but "Bad Attitude" adroitly weaves 'em together for a dreamy bridge, before principal songwriter and guitarist Derry Grehan erupts with cascading fretboard fireworks. All the while, singer Johnnie Dee cautions the listener to clean up his act. Of course Dee wants action "in the sheets" by the tropical single "Feel It Again." Swirling synths and guitar gymnastics also dominate "Lost and Found," which quotes early Kiss and flat-out rules. The legendary Ian Anderson sticks his flute into "All Along You Knew," where cheatin' lyrics pave the way for "Your Love" by the Outfield (another schlock requisite), and the specter of Miami Vice haunts "Words in the Wind," provoking paranoia and cool car chases. Everybody wins by the heartfelt climax "Once the Feeling," a "Reach Out"/"Fight the Good Fight" rallying cry which the me decade delivered so well. In center ring, Dee carries the record from swooning backseat ballads to beloved beauties ("What Does It Take" also backs John Cusack/Demi Moore's curio One Crazy Summer) to scalding bellyaches to the boys about bedeviled betrayals ("One By One," "Wounded"). If you're still reading, you want this record, so don't deny yourself; Big Prize holds all the lost enchantment of adolescent summers.

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