I-Ten – Taking a Cold Look (1983): Forgotten Series

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In the mid-to-late ’80s, Tom Kelly and Bill Steinberg were one of the go-to songwriting teams. Their material ended up on albums as varied as Canadian hard-rockers Honeymoon Suite, country-pop singer Juice Newton, and even ’70s and ’80s mainstays like REO Speedwagon. Perhaps best known for being the songwriting team behind Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” Kelly and Steinberg knew how to write catchy uptempo pop songs.

But before they found success as a songwriting duo, they put out an album themselves. Using the name “I-Ten,” Steinberg and Kelly tapped Grammy-winners Keith Olsen and Toto’s Steve Lukather to produce their debut (and only) album, Taking a Cold Look.

If anyone wanted a prime example of early ’80s AOR, one needs look no further. Featuring trademark ’80s polish and sheen with catchy hooks that would not have sounded out of place on an album by Survivor, REO or even Styx, I-Ten’s Taking a Cold Look isn’t merely a time capsule of that era. It’s a clinic on why music of that era was so popular.

It didn’t take long for other artists to realize the strength of the stronger material here: The title track was covered by Honeymoon Suite; Juice Newton also did “Easy Way Out.” “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” was covered as a bonus track on REO’s 1990 compilation Hits; and, most notably, “Alone” was plucked off Taking a Cold Look by Heart, becoming a huge hit for them.

For years, Taking a Cold Look remained out of print and mired in obscurity, known only to a small handful of fans in the know. It was briefly released on compact disc in the early 2000s, and most recently it was added to and is now available for streaming on Spotify. For any fans of that era of music, anyone wanting to hop into a musical time machine back to the early ’80s, I-Ten’s Taking a Cold Look is a must listen.

Perplexio

Perplexio

Perplexio also maintains a stand-alone blog called The Review Revue, where he explores music, movies and books. He spearheaded 'Saturdays in the Park,' our weekly multi-writer, song-by-song series focused on the music of Chicago. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Perplexio
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