Don’t come in here talking shit about Air Supply. Because I will kick you out.
My love for the Aussie soft-duo comes naturally. I was raised by a grandmother who listened to lots of “Lite FM” and I was also generally left to my own devices whenever a music variety show was on. And from 1980-1983 or so, Air Supply seemed to appear on Solid Gold at least once a month. I only realized today that they are kind of the bizarro Hall & Oates. The tall, fair guy (Graham Russell) was the background character, only occasionally showing up to share vocals, while the short, dark guy (Russell Hitchcock) was the vocal powerhouse, and the more recognizable member. He was also hiding a ton of body art under all of those ‘80s fashions, as I discovered upon opening my first tattoo magazine in the mid ‘90s.
There was a 20 or so year period when “All Out of Love” didn’t even occur to me. Between the time the group faded from radio waves and the time I began seriously building up a record collection, I probably didn’t hear anything by Air Supply more than 2 or 3 times. Then I picked up a copy of Ultimate Air Supply (which seriously has all the Russell & Russell you need AND THEN SOME) and fell all the way back in love. How can you not hold a torch for “All Out of Love”? Beautiful melody, lyrics that are only vaguely banal (hey, this was masterminded by Clive Davis after all), those harmonies in the second voice, and a fucking powerhouse bravura vocal. I dream of doing this at karaoke, only I know there’s no way in hell I’m holding that last note as long as Hitchcock did unless someone brings me an oxygen tank.
NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…
“All Night Thing” by The Invisible Man’s Band (1980): “All Night Thing” hits the exact sweet spot between disco and funk, with a little weirdness mixed in thanks to some pretty severe channel panning at the end of the song. I remember it being a radio hit around the same time as Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (which similarly splits the difference between disco and funk and manages to be weird without any obvious audio trickery). What I didn’t realize until much later was a) the name of the group that recorded “All Night Thing” and b) The Invisible Man’s Band was essentially The Five Stairsteps of “Oo-o-h Child” fame. I guess child stars have to grow up at some point, right?
“All Of The Lights” by Kanye West (2010): Was a point in time when Kanye could have a nervous breakdown on wax and it would sound good. On “All Of The Lights”, Kanye imagines himself as a struggling dad, mourns the loss of Michael Jackson, invites Rihanna to sing the chorus, lends Fergie a few seconds so she can ask herself whether she should have done that line of coke, and he still has time to let Elton John tickle the ivories for a half minute or so. It’s a dizzying song, and the video is equally dizzying-for real (SEIZURE ALERT).