This is "The Big 10 - The Essential Tracks", in which we take a closer look at particular artist's or band's back catalogue, and choose the 10 finest moments. These are our subjective choices, so if you want to ask how on earth we could leave off such and such song from the list, you can... and the answer is... because we could.

 

The heartshaped, king-sized, bed of nails? That's your idea of an Honeymoon Suite? Nailed it! I'm obviously talking about the pretty maid(s) artwork from the debut album of the Canuck act. Recorded in about 2 weeks at Phase One Studios in Toronto on a small budget in 1984, it contains four minor hit singles where the highest charted "New Girl Now" reached #23 in Canada and #57 in USA. The same song which won them an unsigned band contest and the main reason to why they ended up getting signed by Warner/WEA in the first place. Their sound may follow the concept of Loverboy and AOR/Melodic Rock but contains New-Wave and Rock/Pop elements too. To be perfectly honest. "Wave Babies" sounds more like Gary Numan than Hard Rock.

Originally formed in 1981 by vocalist and guitarist Johnnie Dee (of Niagara Falls, Ontario), their moniker was a nod to the fact that in the 50's, 60's, 70's, Niagara Falls was the unofficial honeymoon capital of America/Canada. I believe they all took a trip over the falls shortly afterwards in a barrel? Have a look at the album cover of "The Big Prize" to find the newly, happily? married couple having their picture taken by the Niagara. Ouch. They simply can't wait to take the plunge and jump down the barrel. Anyhow. By 1983, guitarist Derry Grehan and drummer Dave Betts, joined the Honeymooners and things happened shortly afterwards. The Big Prize (Released Feb./1986) was produced by Bruce Fairbairn with assistance from fellow Canadian Bob Rock and it's their best album up to date. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and his darn flute made a guest appearance and the album was double platinum in Canada right out of the gate. Old geezers are still talking about their European tour as opening act to Saga where the show at London concert venue - Hammersmith Odeon, were the best support act they ever saw??

Racing After Midnight (Released March/1988) feature the title track for the very successful Mel Gibson film 'Lethal Weapon' (nowadays the successful TV-series), which was composed by Michael Kamen. Unfortunately not one of their best songs, rather the opposite actually, and especially Dee struggled to make any impression whatsoever. They had several songs on movie soundtracks. "What Does It Take" on the the John Cusack film One Crazy Summer. "Those Were the Days" for the Charlie Sheen film The Wraith. "Bad Attitude" was featured in the series finale of Miami Vice, yet they never quite made it to the Premier League. Monsters Under the Bed (Released Oct./1991) their last effort for a long time and the singles were moderately successful in Canada, but failed to make a dent in the US. They continued to tour (every now and then) in the 90s with only Dee and Grehan remaining as the consistent members.

They resurfaced with Lemon Tongue or if you prefer the re-worked 'Dreamland' on Frontiers in 2002. Both are basically 'Nu-Breed', even if the latter dropping five songs and adding four others, included a remake of "Still Lovin' You", originally on their greatest hits compilation 'The Singles' from the year of 1989. In June 2007, the band announced the return of a reunited classic line-up of Johnnie Dee, Derry Grehan, Ray Coburn, Gary Lalonde, and Dave Betts. The album 'Clifton Hill' (2008) followed (produced by Tom Treumuth of the first album in 1984), but it's unfortunately not quite the return to that catchy rock that made the band famous in the 80's. The EP in 2016 and a new tune in late 2019 might just turn this Suite around and here's hoping for a great new album. For now. Here's the humble tribute and the Big 10...

10. Even Now
9. One By One
8. What Does It Take
7. Words In The Wind
6. Little Sister

5. Stay In The Light
"I wake up in the morning. Sky is gray and storming. Buildings bridges and city streets. Still as ugly as yesterday".. Taken off their 1984 debut album and written in Sault Ste. Marie where they played a two week gig at the Holiday Inn. They had just gotten their record deal and it's definitely a product of the times. It simply reek of 80's youth and juvenile innocence? Ehem. Boppin' and rockin' at the inn 'til the break of dawn. Kicks off with the soft guitar riff and dut-dut keyboards and it's just a catchy and fun Pop/AOR tune. "Stay in the light. Keep your target in sight. Don't listen to fools on the run".

4. Love Changes Everything
Taken from their 1988 album, Racing After Midnight, the song was originally called 'Love Games' and hadn't made it into The Big Prize album. To be frank. It does remind us of their previous album only with a slightly harder edge with stronger emphasis on guitar. The latter not that strange considering that Ted Templeman (Van Halen, Montrose) was the producer. Johnnie Dee was hit by a car at the L.A. airport breaking his leg in several places, and had to finish his vocals standing on crutches in the studio. The song certainly doesn't need any crutches, the strutting guitar documents the effect and sheer power of rock inflicted by the fact that 'Love Changes Everything'.

3. Wounded
"We try so hard to hold the pain. It goes away, but it comes back again". One of the Honeymooners' greatest achievement was their ability to write so vividly about moments of pain and when it's so hard to hold back the tears? Another smashing tune from 'The Big Prize' and they won the Juno Award for Group of the Year and was also nominated for Album of the Year in 1986. This driving beat and perfectly formed AOR vision of the band took a stellar sounding song and only made it better. And it's got a refrain big enough to hold all of their pains comfortably. Wounded, shot down again...

2. Burning In Love
Here's a sad, sad story about a lonely, lonely man. The chain of love is broken and the heart simply won't mend. Oh dear, oh dear. Have we heard it all before? Does the Pope s**t in the woods? Actually, maybe not? Does the bear wear a funny hat? None of it matters as 'Burning' has every element of what's great about HS, in one song the singing guitar intro and the colourful keyboards, the full on reverb effect and wicked harmonies. It's darn catchy and melodic stuff with a little Pop flavour and the shout-a-long refrain. On fire indeed.

1. Feel It Again
"If you would just be sensible, you'd find me indispensable". The band's biggest hit in the U.S. and their only Top 40 Billboard chart (#38). Dee has a very recognisable vocal style. Perhaps not the best technically gifted singer out there, but plenty of heart and soul, sort of like John Waite actually. The pipes has never been in better shape than on this particular tune. In 2015, Songwriter Ray Coburn was presented with a SOCAN Classic Award based on the song having been played more than 100,000 times on Canadian radio. And in 2020 the Urban @ RockUnited.com award! "To feel it again. I thought that this heart would never mend. To feel it again I know it is the living end".

This list by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,

The list as a YouTube playlist

Individual lists:

Kimmo Toivonen:

10. Stay In The Light
9. Still Lovin You
8. Once The Feeling
7. All Along You Knew
6. One By One
5. Love Changes Everything
4. Never Was A Forever
3. Tears On The Page
2. Wounded
1. Burning In Love

Martien Koolen:

10. Lethal Weapon
9. All Along You Knew
8. Stay In The Light
7. Wave Babies
6. Bad Attitude
5. What Does It Take?
4. Love Changes Everything
3. Feel It Again
2. New Girl Now
1. Burning In Love

(c) 2020 RockUnited.Com

 


 

 

 

10.Never Was A Forever
9.
Tears On The Page
8. One By One
7.
New Girl Now
6.
What Does It Take?
5. Stay In The Light
4. Wounded
3.
Feel It Again
2. Love Changes Everything
1. Burning In Love