Huey Lewis and the News had a formula in mind when they self-produced their 1983 benchmark album, "Sports."
“It was a radio world back then… so we aimed every one of those tunes at radio because we knew we needed a hit,” Lewis said. “Now when I listen to it, it sounds exactly like what it was: a collection of singles.”
And it worked. Out of the nine tracks, an impressive four landed in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. According to Lewis, your album was a guaranteed success if it managed to get airtime on contemporary hit radio and MTV playlists back in the '80s. But the musical landscape has changed a lot since then. And not necessarily for the better, Lewis laments. The advent of free streaming services like Pandora and Spotify changed how music is produced.
“With music going to free now, how are you going to have an Eagle’s ‘Hotel California’? Who is going to spend a half a million dollars to make a record that’s going to be given away for free?”
But Lewis is not concerned with selling millions of albums anymore. He and his band are working on a new EP, but instead of a grand release, he aspires to “make a story of it.” Still, new audiences are discovering Lewis’ music through festivals like Shaky Knees.
He and the band performed a front-to-back set of "Sports" on Saturday night. And if the crowd has anything to say about the group’s longevity, it’s that they still play with “The Heart of Rock & Roll.”