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Survivor – Vital Signs [1984]


This album takes me back to a time when it seemed that AOR would take over the world. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but those of us who really appreciate AOR also know the value of it.

“Vital Signs” was Survivor’s fourth studio release and the most successful of all. That was the album on which the band changed its vocals from Dave Bickler (who had left because of vocal problems) to Jimi Jamison. In addition, the band decided to recall veteran producer Ron Nevison (Heart, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, etc.) back into the fold to handle knob twiddling duties. The results were spectacular. Vital Signs blew the roof of the charts, delivering three US top 20 hit singles (“I Can’t Hold Back” #13 US, “High On You” #8 US and “The Search Is Over” #4 US), whilst the album itself made #16 on the album charts…And since its first second, we see a band and several inspired songs with huge potential to be hits. Vital Signs, has the mixture of hard rockers and ballads, punctuated with a mixture of heavy guitar chords and keyboards, having majestic harmonies, anthemic vocals, guitar solos, memorable melodies and catchy chorus, where Jamison’s voice fit the Survivor sound and signs in a manner almost divine in a work no less than excellent.

Opening track “I Can’t Hold Back” shows what Survivor makes Survivor, starts as a quiet ballad, which is gaining strength so gradual in its execution, to become an engaging song and very beautiful in every way, with the impressive and emotional voice of Jamison. The lyrics are so cleverly written that song alone makes the album worth buying. The addictive “High On You” couldn’t continue this record in a better way, with its present synthesizers and the great riffs that transformed the song from a poppy sounding into a great rocking tune. “First Night” (#53 US) is the hardest rocker on this album, and its changes in tempo make it an exciting track. The song begin calmly with a classy piano intro and when we think we have the first ballad of the album, Sullivan’s guitar blasts into rocker mode and gives another face to the music and ultimately deliver over a wide range, especially the spectacular chorus of the same.

“The Search Is Over” was the biggest smash from this album and I still get nostalgia whenever I hear it. A great ballad that needs no introduction that continues to get airplay on soft rock stations until today, while the 5th selection “Broken Promises” is a good mid tempo rock tune that was written with a more cynical view to love with a chorus to die for. “Popular Girl” is another unforgettable moment in which Jamison puts it all down with killer vocals and genius keys that expresses the frustration of being infatuated with the unattainable girl that everyone else seems to be after, followed by “Everlasting” a song that straddles the line between ballad and power ballad. A good song that easily could have been a single, as it has catchy keyboards, great guitars and harmony sung choruses. Jamison’s voice soars above the wonderful music of Peterik and Sullivan, played with heart and sympathy for their subject material. The quicker-paced “It’s The Singer, Not The Song” is another single worthy track dealing in the challenges one faces in trying to against the normal grind. An exceptionally catchy track with fantastic lyrics that goes straight to your heart. “I See You In Everyone” closes the wafer with mastery that captures the feeling of when you can’t seem to get over somebody. Beautiful harmony keyboard with pounding guitar chords and a great work of Sullivan on six strings.

Vital Signs is 27 years old, but still sounds excellent and obviously still holds a place in pure AOR lovers heart. A great slab of melodic rock from start to finish, with a little harder edge than their earlier stuff and remains one of my favorites. Just don’t miss it, because Survivor is a lot more than “Eye Of The Tiger”. For any newcomer to Survivor this is the perfect album.

Band Members
Jimi Jamison lead and backing vocals
Jim Peterik bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals
Mickey Thomas backing vocals
Marc Droubay drums
Stephan Ellis bass
Frankie Sullivan backing guitar, vocals, vocals
Billie Lee Lewis percussion

01. I Can’t Hold Back (3:58)
02. High On You (4:08)
03. First Night (4:15)
04. The Search Is Over (4:13)
05. Broken Promises (3:58)
06. Popular Girl (3:37)
07. Everlasting (3:50)
08. It’s The Singer, Not The Song (4:32)
09. I See You In Everyone (4:26)

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Rating: 9.3/10 (6 votes cast)
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Survivor - Vital Signs [1984], 9.3 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
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