John Waite


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John Waite had known stardom as a member of the Babys, a British quartet that had a brief run on the American charts in the late '70s and early '80s. During the heyday of punk rock, they were unapologetic stadium rockers with their feet planted firmly in the mainstream, and it worked -- they just missed the Top Ten with "Every Time I Think of You" and "Isn't It Time." That was nothing compared to what would follow when Waite's solo career finally took off, yet it took a little effort for that career to gain momentum. He released his first solo album, Ignition, in the summer of 1982. Musically, the record certainly took its cues from the Babys, but it was also a product of its times, exhibiting a considerable new wave production sheen. That much was evident from the surging opener "White Heat," with its glistening, processed guitars and tight rhythms. It's the sound of stylized, commercial mainstream rock in the early '80s, and the rest of Ignition follows this pattern to an appealing end. True, the record has a couple of moments that seem like filler, but not in a bad way; that's because the production sounds good, and Waite's performances are always inspired. The problem is that no matter how well-crafted Ignition is, none of its songs are total knockouts -- the kind of single that would break down the doors to mainstream radio, regardless of whether it was given a push. And so, even though it was a very good solo debut, Ignition withered on the vine.

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