Thursday, January 4, 2018

"Steady" by Jules Shear

Song#:  2275
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  57
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  As an artist, Shear's career never really took flight. Despite attempts with the Funky Kings, his own band the Polar Bears, and a solo effort, nothing clicked. He got a break when his song "All Through the Night," which originally appeared on Shear's 1983 solo debut LP Watch Dog, got picked up and recorded by Cyndi Lauper. The track became a single and it reached #5 on the Pop chart. With a little momentum built up, Shear returned to the studio to record a second album. He came up with The Eternal Return and this song was selected as the first single. Returning the favor, Cyndi Lauper co-wrote the tune with Shear. Despite Lauper's involvement and label support, the single couldn't make a significant impact and it stalled in the lower half of the Pop chart. It would be Shear's only song to reach the chart. However, a track from the album, "If She Knew What She Wants," would become a moderate hit (#29) for the Bangles the following year.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that makes me think, "what went wrong?" This is a terrific song by an artist who was getting attention, and it had an assist from a big star at the time (Cyndi Lauper). It had a lot going for it and deserved to be a much bigger hit, so why did it fall flat? I admit that I didn't catch on to the song until years later thanks to an 80s compilation, but had I heard it back in the day I would have jumped on it. Perhaps there just wasn't enough support from the label or MTV. Or maybe the slow tempo on such a big song just didn't grab listeners. I'm not really sure what the issue was, but it's sad that this song didn't get more attention. In years later, I became a big fan of Shears due to a couple of excellent, critically well-received albums he pushed out. The low-key acoustic affairs Between Us (1998) and Allow Me (2000) are gems that show off Shear's skill as a songwriter. Both are highly recommended as is this stab at 80s power pop that didn't get its due.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Around this time, Elliot Easton (lead guitarist for The Cars) was working on a solo album. He enlisted the help of Shear the the pair co-wrote Easton's 1985 self-titled debut album. Shear also provided background vocals on the tracks. Unfortunately, the only song to make any impact was "(Wearing Down) Like a Wheel," which got to #36 on the Rock chart. Without a solid song to support the album, it quickly disappeared. It would be Easton's only solo effort.


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