4 out of 5 Stars!
There is something to be said for music being one of the most successful triggers for “mental time-travel.” Often, just the mere snippet of a certain song can momentarily flood your head with memories and whisk you back to another period in your life, either good or bad, so that just closing your eyes while the song is playing can almost place you back in another previous era, however briefly. Well, let me tell you, this sole album by an obscure band called Susan (from—presumably, by their overall sound—the Midwest or the East-Coast section of the USA…sorry, I can discover little of this band’s basic history) will forever be a huge trigger for me.
What often seems like a zillion years ago, way back in 1979, I was working for a brick & mortar record store (remember those?) and I remember unpacking a particular shipment of albums, their covers all embossed with the huge “PROMOTION” stamp. Among them was Shiek Yerbouti by Frank Zappa, I distinctly recall. Anyway, as expected, these were the records we played continuously in the store (apart from Zappa’s new release, due to his “sinfully naughty lyrics”—my prudish manager’s exact words, I swear!) for several weeks to induce customers to make that all-important purchase. From that one particular shipment, I discovered two real gems (apart from Zappa’s aforementioned double-album “naughty” set), and oddly enough, neither of these albums (or bands) saw any true success. I bought both albums (with my employee discount, of course) and recommended them to numerous friends, who also purchased them. Too bad my “meager though sincere” efforts didn’t make a damned difference in boosting these albums to best-seller status (which they both deserved). Regardless, in my mind, these obscure platters forever hold a special place in my heart, and even now, just hearing any songs from either disc instantly yanks me back to those fun days in 1979.
The culprits for this “mental time-travel” phenomena are One Night Stands by the forgotten band Teaze and (obviously, since I’m writing this review) Falling in Love Again by the even more-forgotten band named Susan.
Therefore, my rambling story is basically a roundabout disclaimer that my usually unbiased review/rating system might actually be quite biased in this case, thanks to personal nostalgia. With that in mind, I rated the album down a half-star hoping to negate some of that bias.
So, with that trip down memory lane disclosed, what do we have here? Some terrific, straightforward, and wildly catchy Power Pop/Hard Rock, with a healthy injection of AOR. Just about every single track is so damned memorable. Indeed, just glimpsing the title of each song instantly (for me) has the chorus ringing through my memory, which I think says a whole lot for the band’s commendable songwriting capabilities. From the wonderful foot-stomping opening track “Takin’ It Over,” to the harder-edged “Power” and “Too Bad,” to the hummable tribute to legendary actress Marlene Dietrich on “Marlene” (which opens with a snippet from the actress’s own recording of “Falling in Love Again,” hence the album’s title), there’s never a dull, non-catchy moment. “I Was Wrong,” “A Little Time,” “Don’t Let Me Go,” or the sax-tinged “Really Gonna Show” (despite the word “bullshit” slinky into the lyrics) should have all been radio hits. As the final chorus to “Tonight You’re Mine” slowly fades into oblivion to close out the album, I always itch to repeat this ten-track album just one more time, and typically I do just that.
Overall, Susan reminds me of a cross between melodic Power-Pop bands such as Badfinger and Off Broadway mixed with the harder-rocking “attitude” from Cheap Trick and Starz. Each track is ultra-singable, with delightfully melodic guitar fills and solos, driving rhythms, and spot-on harmonies.
Oh yes, for me, 1979 was a very good year. And thanks to Susan for helping me to always remember it, no matter how fleetingly…