User avatarFour Word Reviews: Eyes of Innocence

Do you remember the 1980s? Do you like 1980s music? Are you keen to hear all the many sounds of 80s pop music on a single album? Yes, yes, yes and yes: the album for you is Eyes of Innocence, the 1984 debut from Miami Sound Machine, better known as Gloria Estefan plus her husband and some guys who would be quickly forgotten about as her solo career took off. Me? I like some 80s music, yes, but I generally don’t require all of it to be performed on a single album by a single band. And yet that is what I got when the postman pushed this through my door.

Before you get to the music, the first thing to enjoy here is the CD itself. This seems to be an original CD from 1984 and so it has all the wonderful things that very early CDs have. The album art is designed for a 12″ record sleeve, so the track listing on the back is so small it’s barely legible. The disc itself is plain silver with a record company label and a second track listing in black capital letters. And on the inside, the booklet just has the back of the album again (with the track listing still barely legible) and, on the inside, where you might hope for some band photos or the lyrics or something, there’s a fourth track listing and a very long essay in six languages about how to wipe a CD if it gets various liquids spilled on it.

Miami Sound Machine sound like a nice bunch. Some bands write long lists of “thanks” on their albums that will inevitably mean they’ve picked favourites and left other people out. This album just says “thanks to everyone we’ve ever met”. That would seem to cover all bases. And when you press play, they’re covering all musical bases, with ten tracks that offer a surprisingly comprehensive tour around the variety of pop music circa 1984, from electro-pop hits to electric guitar-driven rock to slow, smoochy ballads and power pop. I was expecting a lot of Latin influence from a band whose members are Gloria, Emilio, Enrique and Juan, but what I got was the world.

Track Title Word 1 Word 2 Word 3 Word 4
1 Dr. Beat Dakdak dakdak dakta Beat
2 Prisoner of Love Weirdly grungy rock number
3 OK Swing band meets Grease
4 Love Me Very generic 80s ballad
5 Orange Express Samba with train horns
6 I Need a Man Bonnie Tyler meets Bananarama
7 Eyes of Innocence Jiggy song about nothing
8 When Someone Comes Into Your Life Please leave my life
9 I Need Your Love Oh god, another ballad
10 Do You Want to Dance Daft synth with harmonica

So what’s here? “Dr. Beat” we all know, of course. Make of it what you will. Track 2 plunges us into sudden rock music, and then we’re on a rollercoaster. Track 4, “Love Me”, might be the most generic 80s pop song I’ve ever heard. “Orange Express” brings the Latin sound back with a wealth of half-baked lyrics like “I know that tomorrow the truth will come to find me, preparing the future to find my destiny.” At that point I knew there had to be a slow piano ballad here somewhere, complete with 80s twinkly noises, and there it was in track 8, like a totally serious version of the Papples’ “Beefy Tears”. Track 9 is a rejected Barry Manilow album track, and then “Do You Want to Dance” brings back the lively Latin pop with the sort of harmonica that made me check whether Stevie Wonder had made a cameo appearance. (He hadn’t.)

My tour of all the pop music of the early 1980s left me exhausted and a little bewildered. I’m not sure it’s actually safe to fly through so many styles in such a short space of time. Having had some time in a dark, quiet room to gather my thoughts and bring my heart rate back down, though, I think my favourite thing about this album was that one track is called “OK”, which represented something of an inflated view of its own quality. My least favourite thing was the headache I got from trying to read the sleeve notes.

18 comments to Four Word Reviews: Eyes of Innocence

  • Out of all the piffle I’ve sent you, or some unknown stranger has been kind enough to send you, this is the one I figured you like the best.

  • So far the best result has been that two of the albums you (or, erm, someone else) have sent me have contained one track that I sort-of liked or didn’t really mind. This is one of them. The Rasmus was the other. So in that sense, yes, I suppose this was the joint “best”.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    One good track. Wasn’t that one of the potential album titles we considered for The Papples?

  • If it wasn’t, it should have been. That’s a great album title. Maybe that’s what the Greatest Hits should be called. What a title for a Greatest Hits album.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    Either that or ‘What’s a good name for a Greatest Hits album?’

  • How about just: “Title of Album”?

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    That’s special, put a pin in that little chicken dinner.

    Is this an actual thing? Are we planning a greatest hits?

  • I’ve been planning a greatest hits for years. I’ve always said it should be all old tracks, but with one new absolutely banging song on it so the fans still have to buy it.

    Maybe we should call it “Milking the Fans”.

  • Milking the Fans. Pulling a Fast One (waaaaaaay!)

    Stretching the Truth. Cashing in, Big Time.

    We could go on, perhaps we should?

  • There’s already more names for this album than tracks.

  • That’s the way it should be, that’s the Papples way.

    Let’s throw out a couple of song titles too. I’m going to choose ‘Robbing the Apple Train’.

  • Sounds good. I’d like to write one called “Big in Belarus”.

  • That’s an excellent potential title.

    How about ‘Rainbow Chaser 2: Sarah Brightman’s Space Horse’, seeing how Kev loved the first ‘Rainbow Chaser’ so much?

  • YES. That’s a classic in the making. That sounds like chart-friendly hit material.

  • Once they see there’s a sequel to ‘Rainbow Chaser’ the “fans” will go nuts for it.

    Do you do sequels to songs? Is that a thing?

  • Meat Loaf did a “Bat Out of Hell II”, and if it’s good enough for the Loaf it’s good enough for us.

  • Ian Mac Mac Mac Mac McIver

    Was it a good song? Most Loaf songs sound very similar, with the odd exception.

  • I only vaguely remember it, but I suppose it was about as good as any Loaf song.

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