1987's Will You Still Love Me When I've Lost My Mind? features future Rage TV host Eric Hafner as the main songwriter and vocalist backed up by three musicians, replacing the four other Lines who appeared on the 1984 release Dirty Water. They, in turn, had replaced the original four musicians from the 1982 release Live at the Metro, which included Jamie Walker and Pat Dreier, who split off to become the Drive and, eventually, the Swinging Steaks. That Jamie Walker was the main songwriter of the original band put a lot on the shoulders of Eric Hafner, giving extra meaning to the name of the record company he co-owned with longtime manager/attorney Paul Carchidi, Sideman Records. But the sidemen actually sound pretty good here, and it is the singer/songwriter who disappoints. Maybe Hafner had run out of creative juice after so many disappointments; he just can't take the solid accompaniment here and hit a home run. "Snowbound" goes nowhere, and Hafner's voice sounds pretentious and contrived. Also, there are no cover songs, something that spiced up other releases by the Lines. Including their rendition of Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" would have been a treat, as it was a regional hit for this band that doubled as a suburban cover act. Listening to the song "Some Day" is nothing but painful. There are certainly worse recordings, it's that this band had the potential and so badly misses the mark here, which is almost worse than having done nothing at all. There's more life than on Bob Pfeifer's 1987 LP After Words, but the bottom line is there is so much better music out in the world that to try to like something that sounds so forced is a chore. That isn't what entertainment is all about. "Rain on Me" abandons the simple sincerity of Split Enz, who the original Lines emulated, and replaces it with mechanical Billy Idol/Simple Minds style mid-'80s rock. Side two doesn't fare much better; "Indian Summer" is one of the better titles and performances, but it's still no great shakes. Jamie Walker and the Swinging Steaks broke away from this ensemble and made quite a name for themselves, while the Lines kept beating their original concept into the ground. After a decade, it became too familiar, too old, and lost any charm or enthusiasm which made the band a fun night on the town. This album asks the question Will You Still Love Me When I've Lost My Mind?, and in doing so risks hearing the answer, the word "no" from longtime fans. A very tough listen.
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