Billy Squier is often described as a poor man’s Robert
Plant. While that’s not inaccurate, it is a little unfair. After all, what hard
rock band hasn’t ripped off Led Zeppelin, usually with far worse results?
Perhaps a better comparison is Cheap Trick. If you want to take
that analogy to its logical conclusion, then 1981’s Don’t Say No is Squier’s At
Budokan, the moment when his mixture of hard rock riffs and pop smarts
finally came together in a way that sounded absolutely perfect blasting from
car radios everywhere.
Unlike a lot of reissues, this one doesn’t put the artist in
a new context or make you think about him in a different way – the only bonus
tracks it includes are pointless 2009 live versions of “The Stroke”
(excruciating at 14 minutes) and “My Kinda Lover.” But the original
versions of those songs – as well as many others – hold up surprisingly
well, and having a new version of the CD available is a good excuse to revisit
them. Squier may not have been an original, but at his best, he was a
helluva lot of fun to listen to.
Kinda Lover,” “In the Dark” HAL BIENSTOCK