In talking with Michael LeFevre over at 80sMetalMan after he did a Survivor post, we thought it would be fun to do an album ranking of all 8 of their albums. We wanted to see how we looked at each album. So, here is my list. Click on 80sMetalMan to go see his list.
Survivor…everyone knows them because of the Rocky movies whether it is “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III or “Burning Heart” from Rocky IV, but the band was so much more than that. They were a great pop rock band / AOR or whatever you want to call them. The main three band members were vocalists Dave Bickler, keyboardist Jim Peterik and guitarist Frankie Sullivan (the only original member left in the band). They had other members but those were the three consistent members. After 4 albums, Dave left due to vocal issues and Jimi Jamison came in on vocals and took the band to a different level. The band sort of broke up after 1988’s ‘Too Hot To Sleep’, but Jimi Jamison still toured under the name which caused a lot of lawsuits. Dave came back in the fold from time to time and so did Jimi. After an 18 year break, they released their 8th album ‘Reach’ and that has been it ever since…mainly due to the passing of Jimi Jamison back in 2004. Maybe some day we will get more Survivor music, but for now, this is what we got. How do they rank? Check it out.
THE WORST: ‘REACH’ (2006):
This was the band’s final album and first they had done in 18 years and I was excited when this was announced. That quickly faded when I heard it though as they were a shell of their former self. The songs were not there and despite Jimi Jamison’s amazing vocals, they weren’t enough to save the album. Throw in the fact that Frankie Sullivan sang on three songs when probably not what fans wanted…we wanted Jimi on all the songs. Even Jimi left after this. Sadly, this is the last album and not a great way to go out on. Jimi Jamison passed away in 2014 and he has been missed!!
#7 – ‘CAUGHT IN THE GAME’ (1983):
The follow-up to “Eye of the Tiger”, but honestly I don’t remember this album. Still better than “Reach” though. It was the last album with vocalist David Bickler who left to have vocal surgery. There were no real hits and nothing overly memorable. The two singles were “Caught in the Game” which only went to #77 and “I Never Stopped Loving You” which didn’t crack the Top 100. A couple other decent tracks were “Jackie Don’t Go” and “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way”. The album was a major step backwards for the band after such a promising album with “Eye of the Tiger”. But solid change was coming for the band that took the to the top even for a little while.
#6 – ‘PREMONITION’ (1981):
The only bad Survivor album is ‘Reach’ and “Caught in the Game” was a little boring. Outside of that for me, each album is great with some better than others. What I’m saying is you can’t go wrong from here on out with any of their albums. ‘Premonition’ picked up right where they debut left off giving us one of their best songs “Poor Man’s Son”. The only problem with the album is Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik decided to be producers and that doesn’t always work out. While still some great songs and their sound was still there, the overall package left me wanting a little as the songs weren’t as good as the debut. It was also only 8 songs which is a pretty short album. I did like “Summer Nights”, “Hearts A Lonely Hunter” and “Chevy Nights”.
#5 – ‘SURVIVOR’ (1979):
Wait a second…is that Kim Bassinger on the cover? Why yes it is!! Dang she’s hot! Sorry, back to the music. The debut album from Survivor is such a promising record. Produced by Ron Nevison and mixed by Bruce Fairbairn had high hopes for this troubled album. Easily the two best songs are “Somewhere in America” and “Nothing Can Shake Me (From Your Love)” okay, maybe throw in “Can’t Getcha Offa My Mind” and maybe “Let it Be Now”…who am I kidding, there is a lot of good stuff on this debut. The album showed a band with some major talent and a lot of promise that took awhile to be fulfilled. Outside of the Top 4 songs, it is the one I play the most so which is why it is here.
#4 – ‘TOO HOT TO SLEEP’ (1988):
The third album with Jimi Jamison on vocals and still a solid album, but a slight step backwards overall. The band was down to just Jimi Jamison, Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik. After the disappointing run of this album, the band went on a rather long hiatus. But don’t be mistaken, the album isn’t bad…I think the listening public had moved on to 80’s hair bands and this was a ballad pop band at this point. The two singles “Didn’t Know it Was Love” and “Across The Miles” were more of the same as well as “Desperate Dreams”. They were ballads, still great though. But songs like “Too Hot To Sleep”, “Tell Me I’m the One” and the intense album closer “Burning Bridges” showed they had more to offer than ballads.
#3 – ‘EYE OF THE TIGER’ (1982):
One of the most recognizable songs in the world thanks to Rocky III. “Eye of the Tiger” might be the most popular work out song or motivational songs ever. It worked for Rocky right! Dave Bickler’s vocals are fantastic and with Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan’s writing, we get a wonderful collection of songs. The album wasn’t just “Eye of the Tiger”, nope, we also got great songs like “Feels Like Love”, “American Heartbeat” and the ballad “Ever Since the World Began” where Dave’s vocals soar. The album sounds a little dated today, but it still brings back such great memories I can’t help but place it high on the list.
#2 – ‘WHEN SECONDS COUNT’ (1986):
How do you follow-up a powerhouse album like ‘Vital Signs’, well you put out this gem “When Seconds Count’. The album didn’t do as well and I blame the record company for choice of singles. The first two, “Is This Love” a Top 10 single and “How Much Love” were great, but they missed an opportunity with songs like “Rebel Son”, “Oceans” and “When Seconds Count” would’ve all made great singles. That doesn’t take away from how great this album is as it picked up where ‘Vital Signs’ left off and gave us exactly what we wanted. Some of their best written songs by Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan, but those Jimi Jamison vocals are perfection.
#1 – ‘VITAL SIGNS’ (1984):
Of course I knew of Survivor prior to this album as who hadn’t heard “Eye of the Tiger”…I mean no one!! But it was the first album I bought from the band. Actually, it was the very first CD I ever bought…the very first!! That only puts it in a special place, but that isn’t the reason it is #1. Nope. There are two reason…first is the addition of Jimi Jamison on vocals. Damn what a powerhouse singer. The second is the songs…the album was perfect from beginning to end. They blew up on radio with rocking songs like “I Can’t Hold Back”, “High on You”, “First Night” and “Popular Girl” to ballads like “The Search is Over” these guys were radio friendly. The album went platinum and they saw some great success.
And there you have it, the Survivor studio albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same artist and that is all that matters really. And if as a result, you find something new, then my job is done!!! Now go check out 80sMetalMan’s Ranking!! and see how much we differ because we do and that is what it makes it great.