For a short moment in time, this little band from Portland, Oregon, dominated the Hot 100 with their mega-hit song that reached number three during a time when the number one songs where long-lasting hits like “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John, The J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ cover version of “I Love Rock & Roll”. And, while this faceless band, who had a weak-voiced version of Pat Benatar, Rindy Ross on lead vocals and saxophone, rode their self-titled debut album to number eight on the Top 200 Albums chart. It had to seem like a magical time for a band that many people in my life would come to call just a year later “Quaterflash-in-the-pan”. As soon as they hit, they were gone.
Their debut album has the feel of what Toto’s Toto IV would end up sounding like: a mix of arena rock songs that retained a strong R&B feel along with some well-timed slow dance slows, that for some reason were never released. But, in the Spring of 1982, Quarterflash was just the right size in popularity for my alma mater to bring the band in for a concert that included the opening band Prism, a Canadian arena rock band that never made it to the arenas. Of course, a young lady purchased tickets for us to attend. It probably was the biggest act to hit campus until Charlie Daniels arrived in 1983 or Neil Young brought his country band, The International Harvesters, to the auditorium in 1985, when no one was really caring what Young had to say. So eithe,r Quarterflash in 1982 or Red Skelton’s Homecoming 1981 performance were the concert high points of my Ball State years.
Well, much like their debut album, the Quarterflash concert was enjoyable, but they were still no Springsteen or Petty. The album itself had the potential to be even more of a dominant force on the soft rock radio format than it was. Back in the pre-Thriller days, most albums only attempted to make two of their songs hits. If an album contained three or more big hits, then the album was probably selling multiple-platinum levels. Since Quarterflash was released on a small label, they did not get the necessary backing to push this album beyond the million-selling level it attained early in the summer of 1982.
I must say right now that Quarterflash by the group Quarterflash is now a yacht rock classic. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. Hell, “Harden My Heart” has been heard on one of the Grand Theft Auto video games, as well as being included in the Broadway show that covered the power ballad/glam…er…hair metal era of the Eighties Rock of Ages. Now, if you are not a yacht rock fan, then you will want to avoid this album by all costs since all of the rock-slash-R&B has homogenized right out of the rock, leaving you will a killer soft rock sound. It was the sound that my mother actually liked. I think that’s all I need to say about that.
Now that we are at the end of another week, it will be time to change topics within this great 20th century musical invention called rock music. So, until Monday, have a great weekend and enjoy your family. One last thing, remember the words of the prophet Elvis Costello, “I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.”