Classic Compilation – Pure Rock (1981)

While going through used vinyl at The Archive (Bridgeport, CT) I came across Pure Rock. My first thought was – the title sounds like something that would’ve been a CD compilation advertised on TV in the ‘90s. My second thoughts was – lemme see what’s on this.

Flipping the album over I was blown away. Pure Rock, which was released in 1981, features songs from 1975 through 1980, and while there’s no way whoever put it together could’ve predicted this, the entire tracklisting has become a blueprint for classic rock radio stations (click image to enlarge).

Pretty much every one of these songs still gets played today, and there’s a reason for this – they’re damned good songs.

In fact, I could write something about each of them … but I know you don’t have time for that, so I’ve narrowed this column down to eight highlights.

Side 1 

Journey – Any Way You Want It


Before it became a favorite of marketers everywhere (seriously, doesn’t it feel like every company has used this song in a commercial at some point?), “Any Way You Want It” was simply an awesome Journey song. With Steve Perry’s vocals, a killer guitar riff, and a chorus that’s a total earworm, it really has it all! It’s also a nice reminder that the band was more than just “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Eddie Money – Baby Hold On


Eddie Money had a way with the ladies. He could turn to the woman he was with and request “Take Me Home Tonight,” offer “Two Tickets to Paradise,” or advise “Baby Hold On.” Point blank – the man made hits! Sometimes people forget just how money Eddie Money was.

Heart – Straight On


For as much as I love ’80 power ballad Heart, there was something really special about kick ass ‘70s rock Heart. This was a BAND, and they were pure perfection. I’m also sure that after hearing this song a lotta guys were hoping Ann, or Nancy Wilson would come “Straight On” for them.

The Doobie Brothers – Long Train Runnin’


For me, The Doobie Brothers are one of my “They did that song???” and “Oh, I know that song!” bands. I recognize their tunes, but often don't realize they’re Doobie Brothers songs. I had both of the aforementioned reactions when “Long Train Runnin’” came on while listening to Pure Rock. In fact, it made me so curious that when I saw Best Of The Doobies in a bin of used CDs, I picked it up. When I gave it a spin it turned out I recognized the first SIX songs on the album!

Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot


Lest anyone think the Wilson sisters were the only kick ass women of the era, Pat Benatar was hitting listeners with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” It was, and still is an epic jolt of … well … Pure Rock.

After far too long a wait, Benatar was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.

Side 2 

Boston – Don’t Look Back


The opening guitar riff of “Don’t Look Back” automatically makes me think I’m tuned to my local classic rock station. The song is such a classic rock radio staple it’s almost impossible to think that at one point in time it was current, but in 1978 that was the case. I don’t think Boston would mind us looking back on that!

ZZ Top – Tush


We should all be thankful that subtlety was never one of ZZ Top’s strong suits, because they made some incredible songs that were incredibly obvious. In the case of “Tush,” which is about exactly what you think it’s about, one of their other great achievements is they managed to rhyme “much” with “tush.” Hidden in all this is that they’re supremely talented blues musicians. Seriously, if all you know are their ‘80s radio hits, go a bit deeper into their catalogue. You’ll find some real gems.

Foghat – Slow Ride


“Slow Ride” always makes me think of Dazed and Confused, because it plays right before the closing credits of the movie. It’s also one of the best songs ever to play while doing any kind of distance driving. If your road trip mix doesn’t include “Slow Ride,” your road trip is a failure. I don’t make the rules.

Much like “Slow Ride” closed out Dazed and Confused, it also closed out Pure Rock, but this compilation is so great I’m about to flip the record back to Side 1, and drop the needle on it again!