John Waite's stardom as a member of the Babys was nothing compared to what would follow when Waite's solo career finally took off, yet it took a little effort for that career to gain momentum. Waite released his first solo album, Ignition, in the summer of 1982. Musically, the record certainly took its cues from the Babys, but it was also a product of its times, exhibiting a considerable new wave production sheen. The problem is that no matter how well-crafted Ignition is, none of its songs are total knockouts -- the kind of single that would break down the doors to mainstream radio, regardless of whether it was given a push. And so, even though it was a very good solo debut, Ignition withered on the vine. Two years later, Waite returned with No Brakes, an album that had success in its sights. Cleverly, the record not only had an explicit commercial pop bent, featuring mid-tempo pop tunes and ballads, but it also rocked like a bastard, particularly on the opening cut "Saturday Night." Most importantly, it had a hit single in "Missing You." Perched perfectly between anthemic mainstream rock and sleek post-new wave pop, it was a minor miracle -- a flawlessly written, classicist pop song, delivered with a stylish, MTV-ready flair. It deservedly became not just a number one hit, but one of those records that everybody knows, capturing a time yet transcending it to become part of the very fabric of pop culture. The rest of the record was as expertly crafted, constructed, and performed as the best of Ignition. In retrospect, it might sound a little bit too much like 1984, thanks to the big drums and clean production, but that's its charm: It's a prime example of fine mainstream rock circa the mid-'80s. [The initial pressing of this two-fer had a curious recording error in the fourth track, but has since been fixed.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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