|First posted 5/30/2008; updated 11/26/2020.|
Released: September 15, 1983
Peak: 11 US, 23 UK, 3 CN, 22 AU
Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.1 UK, 10.6 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: mainstream pop rock
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 37:46
4.044 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
In today’s musical landscape, if an album doesn’t debut at #1, its chances of ever reaching that peak are slim. Albums don’t “climb” the charts. They operate more like movies – their first week out of the gate is their biggest and they decline from there. In the ‘80s, however, starting at the top was a rarity. Bruce Springsteen’s live box set did the trick in 1986 – the first album in a decade to do so. Before that albums had to prove themselves first.
Huey Lewis & the News definitely fell into that category. They released Sports in the autumn of 1983. It was the group’s third album following their 1980 self-titled debut, which didn’t even chart, and 1982’s Picture This, which achieved gold status on the strength of the top ten single “Do You Believe in Love.” The minor hits “Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do” and “Working for a Living” followed.
“Picture This found Huey Lewis and the News developing a signature sound, but they truly came into their own on their third album, Sports.” STE “The record holds together better than its predecessors because it has a clear, professional production, but the real key is the songs. Where their previous albums were cluttered with generic filler, nearly every song on Sports has a huge hook. And even if the News aren’t bothered by breaking new ground, there’s no denying that the craftmanship on Sports is pretty infectious. There’s a reason why well over half of the album…were huge American hit singles – they have instantly memorable hooks, driven home with economical precision by a tight bar band, who are given just enough polish to make them sound like superstars. And that’s just what Sports made them.” STE
With the lead single (Heart and Soul) from Sports, Huey & Co. found themselves in the top 10 again, reaching #8. The next single, I Want a New Drug, did even better, reaching #6. The song generated controversy because of the drug reference although anyone listening to the lyrics would know the “drug of choice” was love, not some illegal narcotic. The band was also sued by Ray Parker. Jr., who accused them of plagiarizing his 1984 hit “Ghostbusters.” The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. WK
It wasn’t until the third single, Heart of Rock and Roll (which Blender magazine ranked #6 on its list of the “50 Worst Songs Ever”) WK was spending its fourth week at #6 before Sports finally climbed to the top rung. It was only for one week, but it had such longevity that it placed at #2 on Billboard’s year-end album chart, after Michael Jackson’s Thriller. WK
A fourth single – If This It – also found itself just outside the top 5. More than a year after the release of the album, Walking on a Thin Line was released as a fifth single, peaking at #18. All five singles proved their crossover worth as well by hitting the rock charts.
The group was embraced by MTV because of their fun videos. Lewis had an easy air about him; he was an everyman who was funny, self-deprecating, and likable. It was no accident that the album cover depicted the band hanging out at a sports bar. These weren’t just the kind of guys who people wanted to hang out with; this felt like the local bar band which drew crowds week after week because they guaranteed a fun evening.
Notes: In 1999, an expanded edition of the album added live versions of “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” “Walking on a Thin Line,” “If This Is It,” “Heart and Soul,” and “I Want a New Drug.”
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