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Jimi Jamison

Posted by purplemary54 on September 3, 2014

Sorry about the extended radio silence.  I’d like to pretend it was because I was still all aflutter about the upcoming release of The Basement Tapes Complete, but really, life just kind of got in the way.  The world keeps turning.

Sadly, that is no longer true for Survivor lead singer Jimi Jamison, who passed away yesterday at 63.  I don’t know why I was surprised he was that old.  He wasn’t a youngster when he joined the band, and that was more than 30 years ago.  It still seems so weird for me that the 80s was that far in the past.  Because I still feel young, it seems like everything from my adolescence should be perpetually as it was then.

Survivor seems to be a quintessential 80s band; listening to them now is a little like going back in time.  Jamison himself was reluctant to join the band because they were more Pop than his other gigs.  He had a classic 80s Pop/Rock voice–equally comfortable with bombastic rockers and power ballads.  And he always kind of looked like he ought to be fronting some hair metal band.  But the fit with Survivor was good; 1984’s Vital Signs was a solid hit, spawning several Top Forty singles.  Including my favorite track, “High On You.”

After only knowing Survivor from “Eye of the Tiger” (which I loathe to this day), this song was a nice change of pace to me.  Now it seems a little bland, offensive only in its inoffensiveness.  It’s a very well-constructed song, the kind of music that seems designed by the label’s A&R guys.  Actually, it’s exactly the kind of music I rail most against today.  Except that there’s just the right touch of sincerity to Jamison’s voice, just the right amount of sentiment.  That might be a studio construction, too, but it takes a pretty good singer to make you believe it.  If nothing else, Jimi Jamison made people believe the words he was singing.  That’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.

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