I’ve had this album since 1979.
Its great Chicago-based ‘power pop,’ which is a term used for bands in the late ’70s / early ’80s that didn’t quite fit in the punk (‘new wave’) genre that was grabbing hold at that time. It ranks right up there with the Shoes Present Tense, the Records The Records, the Kind’s Pain and Pleasure, the Knack’s Get the Knack, 20/20’s Look Out!, and the Kings Are Here.
But Off Broadway’s debut, On, is really hard to find in used bins and I feel bad for anyone who can’t get their hands on this bubblegum masterpiece. My theory is that if anyone has it, they’re simply not letting it go.
Besides, as far as collectability goes, my Off Broadway’s LP jacket has the dreaded ‘ring’ wear, which is that circular mark that magically appears as the disc actually pushes against the sleeve from the inside and leaves an indelible mark on the jacket.
Uptight collectors hate ring wear. But if I saw my Off Broadway On sitting in a bin and the vinyl looked clean, hells yeah I’d buy it. Am I listening to the music or looking at the cover?
Funny but I recently found Off Broadway’s second album, Quick Turns (1980), and dropped $3.99 on it simply because I needed the sequel. But I’ve only spun it a couple of times. It’s not that it’s a bad record – in fact, it’s almost as good as On. Its even recorded better than On. Only it just isn’t as compulsively listenable.
Sophomore slump? Too much of a hurry to get to the big time? Lead singer Cliff Johnson’s reported arrogance? Metal-y guitar solos that don’t quite fit the power pop M.O.? Who knows?
You’ll easily find Quick Turns. The hunt is really on for Off Broadway’s On.
© 2016 Chris Barry