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Why I love Air Supply

A local musician explains the sublime pleasures of Australia’s yacht-rock wonders



I'll never forget the moment I first heard Air Supply's "Lost in Love" on the radio at a friend's house. I was 10 years old and fiercely devoted to hard rock. Or Pink Floyd's The Wall. Or whatever.

Actually, I wasn't really very sure about anything at that time. I knew I liked to play soccer. I also would've willfully walked into a stranger's van for Jolly Ranchers. But when it came to music, I was still just a prepubescent, rookie audiophile soaking up all the radio had to offer at the time.

Admittedly, I was naive, and still reeling from the cancellation of Wonder Woman. What was I to do with all these amateur erections without Lynda Carter? I was vulnerable. I needed a security blanket.

It was during that phase of life that hearing the Australian group's "Lost in Love" first paralyzed me, washing over me like a gooey, slow burn. It was so beautiful, so soothing, so hypnotizing. It just sounded safe, in a good way. It was just so damn easy to like. I was an instant Air Supply fan. I eventually scrummed up the resources to buy the album and listened to it repeatedly.

I was still too young at the time to realize it was uncool to like Air Supply. Today, there's no denying their music is decidedly cheesy, but it's good cheesy. And that's hard to pull off. For example, Boy Band music = bad cheesy, Christopher Cross' "Sailing" = good cheesy.

First released in 1979, a year before "Sailing," the band's breakthrough single set a new standard for good cheesy. With melodies so alluring and song arrangements so emotionally manipulative, you just couldn't help but surrender to their songs. And those voices, calling and answering, perfectly complementing each other in gorgeous harmony. It was pop perfection.

Every week I would root for them on Casey Kasem's American Top 40 as they became one of music's most reliable hit machines. It's hard for me to imagine how anyone can listen to "All Out of Love" or "Every Woman in the World" and not get caught up in their charming brilliance. (By the way, "All Out of Love" will bring the house down in a karaoke bar.)

A couple years back I saw the band at the Pikes Peak Center. I was expecting a cute and nostalgic show but, man, was I wrong. Their songs became wholly different monsters onstage. The sheer epicness of "The One That You Love" magnified to ridiculous levels. The haunting beauty of "Sweet Dreams" left me riddled with goosebumps. Graham Russell's voice was as smooth as ever. Russell Hitchcock hit every high note effortlessly. These guys were just owning that stage.

I welled up more than once. Like me, you would probably assume the crowd at an Air Supply show would be pretty mellow, right? Not so. People were clamoring up front against the stage, rocking out like it was a Metallica show. It was as surreal as it was cool. My friend and I even got solicited by another couple for an after-show foursome. What the?! Air Supply fans get down.

Obviously, I highly recommend catching their upcoming return to the Pikes Peak Center. You will smile, sing, and you might even cry. Hell, you might even have a foursome.

Mike Stephens has been involved in the local music scene since 1989. His current band, The Men of Deep Throat, are currently recording their full-length debut album at Black in Bluhm Studios in Denver. He also plays in tribute bands because "it's fun as hell and they actually pay us."

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