Autograph were practitioners of big keyboard use and huge choruses but somewhere along the way they failed to convince.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Sign In Please
SERIAL: RC 250
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Steve Plunkett – vocals, guitars * Steve Lynch – lead guitar * Randy Rand – bass * Steven Isham – keyboards * Kenni Richards – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Send Her To Me * 02 Turn Up The Radio * 03 Nineteen And Non-Stop * 04 Cloud 10 * 05 Deep End * 06 My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me * 07 Thrill Of Love * 08 Friday * 09 In The Night * 10 All I’m Gonna Take
An accomplished lot were Autograph, boasting members with previous associations in bands like Silver Condor, The Coup and Masters Of The Airwaves. Surely an automatic guarantee of quality from the start.
Plunkett was the man in Silver Condor and bought with him a superb voice. Autograph could be viewed as a typical 80’s rock band, but were blessed with the nuance of being able to mix up hard rock aggression with AOR sensibilities.
This subtle piece of genius saw them score a massive top twenty hit with ‘Turn Up The Radio’, still a classic rock station staple to this day. It guided ‘Sign In Please’ into the top thirty of the Billboard album charts and appeared to be the start of a successful career.
Autograph were practitioners of big keyboard use and huge choruses and you get it from the beginning on ‘Send Her To Me’, a quality AOR contender. ‘Turn Up The Radio’ is the type of rock anthem you never hear anymore, massive ‘let’s all sing along!’ chorus and class lyrics like ‘daytime, night time, things go better with rock’. A thriller!
‘Nineteen And Non Stop’ ups the hard rock quotient, riding a rude bass riff mixed with overpowering synths. Not too thrilled with the chorus though. It fails to live up to the promise of the buildup. Same goes for ‘Cloud 10’. The melody is flat and strangely contrived. It sounds like Autograph were trying too hard to complete a classic rock recording.
‘Deep End’ is better, only because the guitar work is heavier. Aggravatingly ‘My Girlfriends Boyfriend Isn’t Me’ is another unsatisfying cut. Again, weak chorus etc. It doesn’t grab me and leaves me feeling cold. ‘Friday’ is your average weekend party ode, nothing special and not a patch on Loverboy‘s ‘Friday Night’.
Elsewhere, ‘In The Night’ and ‘All I’m Gonna Take’ rescue this from becoming a shambles. Both shine melodically and there are some choice licks coming out of Lynch’s guitar. The anti-establishment lyrics of ‘All I’m Gonna Take’ are inspiring as well. This tale of life gone sour is very dramatic and the best thing on the album. The music suits the mood – desperate, and is a departure from anything else found on the disc.
Following the success of ‘Sign In Please’ Autograph never recovered. 85’s ‘That’s The Stuff’ was a letdown, containing only a single worthy track, ‘Six String Fever.’ The problem once again lay with the poor choruses.
Autograph saved the best for last with 87’s ‘Loud And Clear’, a superior AOR effort that went unnoticed, as did the band when they split. A shame as they finally got it right. Still every time I listen to ‘Sign In Please’ I always feel cheated or robbed. Unsatisfied even. Some good moments, but ultimately too forced.
Turn Up The Radio