Saturday, 14 March 2009

1982 Survivor: Eye Of The Tiger

For a generation who were of a certain age in the early eighties, this song will always be the 'Theme From Rocky 3', no more and no less. And why not? Stallone was a fan of the band and commissioned them to write the song specifically for the film. So the question is whether 'Eye Of The Tiger' can stand on it's own two feet without Rocky to prop it up. Well yes....and no.

Yes, in that the song is a solid enough listen with an unusual nagging single note guitar riff opening the track then running through it like a stitch. The double tracked power chords and drum beats add a note of drama and menace which, disappointingly, is never realised with any effect as it soon falls into predictable 4/4 line as it gathers pace. The lyrics though are suitably removed from the world of pugilism to transcend their source and provide inspiration to anyone with their back against the wall:

"Risin' up, straight to the top

Have the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive "

No, in that 'Eye Of The Tiger' is more light than heavyweight in the rock stakes. Whilst the UK in 1982 had the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden running riot under the NWOBHM banner, the Americans were getting off on an FM diet of soft pop/rock sounds courtesy of Foreigner, Journey, REO Speedwagon et al whose combined record collections didn't seem to stretch any further than the first Boston album.

Survivor are a typically square peg to sit aside these square holes, and for all their fighting talk, bluster and streetwise swagger the band show on the video, 'Eye Of The Tiger' now sounds too tired to fight it's way out of a paper bag. At least not when compared with something like 'Ace Of Spades' released two years earlier which still sounds like someone repeatedly slamming your head against a brick wall. Maybe that's not what Survivor were 'about', but as they were soundtracking a boxing film, then maybe they should have been.

Hearing 'Eye Of The Tiger' now will always bring a warm feeling to those who remember it first time round, and the urge to throw shadow punches to those power chords at the start is still well nigh irresistible. The remainder will wonder what all the fuss is about.

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