Friday, July 23, 2021

"Here with Me" by REO Speedwagon

Song#:  3560
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  80
Peak:  20
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After four consecutive multi-platinum studio albums, the band stumbled a bit with their 1987 effort Life As We Know It. It would go gold thanks to a pair of Pop Top 20 entries including "In My Dreams" (#19), but that was a steep drop in sales from their previous LPs. The band was also having some inner turmoil so it seemed like a good time to take a step back and reassess everything. In the meantime, a compilation would be assembled and pushed out simply titled The Hits. In addition to featuring most of their biggest singles, the album would include two newly recorded songs including this one which was pushed out to help promote the collection. It would be a hit at AC reaching #9 while just barely cracking the Pop Top 20. It would end up being the band's last single to make the Pop Top 40. Upon release, The Hits would only get to #56, but like many compilations it would continue to be a consistent seller in the band's catalog and eventually it would sell over four million copies.

ReduxReview:  It certainly wasn't surprising that the band released another power ballad as a single. Of their previous four Pop Top 20 entries, three of them were ballads. It seemed like they were making that transition from being a big arena rock band into a more hit-oriented AC staple much in the way that Journey, Chicago, and Foreigner had been doing. It's not a bad thing to do if it keeps sales up and fans coming back, but there was no mistaking that their best rockin' days were, for the most part, behind them. This last gasp mild hit wasn't too bad, but the problem was that it had no legs. I'd completely forgotten this song and even back in the day I barely heard it. While the song was fine, it just wasn't strong enough to leave a lasting impression like their earlier hits. Frankly, all I need to hear from REO is Hi-Infidelity and a few of their 70s tracks. 

ReduxRating:  5/10

TriviaThe Hits ended up being an album that signaled the end of REO's most successful period. After two members left the band, lead singer/songwriter Kevin Cronin, original member Neal Doughty, and long-time member Bruce Hall hired in replacements and decided to soldier on. The new lineup's first effort, 1990's The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken, was not successful. It featured the band's last single to reach the Pop chart, the #65 "Love Is a Rock" (#31 AC) along with the #6 AC hit "Live It Up," which failed to make the Pop chart. The results pushed REO off of the Epic Records roster after being with the label for nearly 20 years. The band would continue to be a successful touring act and record the occasional indie LP, but their hit making days had come to an end.


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