286. On the Fritz – Steve Taylor

ON THE FRITZ (1985)

Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor followed up his masterpiece, Meltdown, with 1985’s “On the Fritz,” a substantially more refined and mature rock album that was great, but did not seem to match what came before or after. Produced by Ian McDonald of Foreigner and King Crimson fame, Fritz was wider and deeper musically then Meltdown, but seems to lack the more memorable touches and possessed a few too many novelties that don’t bear repeating nearly as often.

The great offender on the album was Lifeboat, a song (or mini-musical sketch as it were) that must have sounded great on paper and worked well in video format, but simply is not musical enough to bear consistent repeat listening. “Drive, He Said” comes close, but is interesting enough and has enough of a Bowie type feel that it does not quite as much as the former.

But when the album does take musical swings it hits way more often then misses and also contains some of Taylor’s finest and most personal songs. “This Disco (Used to be a Cute Cathedral)” is based on the true story of the Limelight Club in NY that was once an Episcopal Church. Musically more in line with Meltdowns manic, dance driven style, even stations adverse to playing more “upbeat” music added the song to their playlist.

The Ian McDonald guitar influence can be heard on the wonder title track. The song looks at a pop star that once confessed Christ but has turned his back in the faith to maintain his stature in the mainstream world. “It’s a Personal Thing” actually sounds like something that would have worked well on the following “I Predict 1990” album with the bass and keyboard driven approach and the political commentary and pre-dated Bill Clinton by nearly a decade.

“To Forgive” remains one of Taylor’s finest and most personal songs. The Big Country sounding E-Bow guitar creates a very Euro sounding power pop song. The story telling here is Taylor at his best.”I Manipulate” and “You Don’t Own Me Nothing” are great songs and show a progression of the artist as a songwriter out of the novelty realm.

But Taylor’s very best may have been saved for the last song on the album. “I Just Wanna Know” remains Taylor’s most personal and confessional song in his tenure. The self-doubt and internal questioning of motives for his art are examined in full sight of the listener. It is also musically captivating and a perfect ending to a very strong album.

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  1. November 12, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Funny story; I introduced my son to “my music” with Drive He Said (won a lip synch contest to this song at a local Xian bookstore once) and Lifeboat. These songs were door-openers for my friends back then too. The downside? I’ve had to repeatedly drive the word ‘retard’ from my little guy’s vocabulary.

  2. Brian
    November 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Great album, fresh music. I still remember watching the video to Lifeboat.
    Steve Taylor was very wonderful for CCM and this album is a a great example why.

    ON THE FRITZ & TO FORGIVE were hot cuts right off the album which would catch you but I MANIPULATE, THIS DISCO & DRIVE HE SAID were stand out tracks as well.

    Get this album

  3. Brett C
    December 1, 2010 at 9:34 am

    This is the first CD that I ever bought in 1985, even before I owned a CD player. Great album.

  4. Greenchili
    March 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Some fine gems on this album. On The Fritz (the song) will always be one of my favorites. Dead on about “I Just Wanna Know”.

    My brother for some odd reason absolutely loves “Life Boat”.

    I dunno “It’s a Personal Thing” seemed like it would have fit better on IWTBAC

    I remember meeting Steve after his concert where he was selling this album. A friend of mine actually had his copy “stolen” during the concert and I mentioned this. Without hesitation Steve gave us a copy of this album for my friend. What a great guy!

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