1979’s “Just a Game” by Triumph is a solid release, highlighted with the standout tracks, “Lay it on the Line”, “Hold On”, and the title track. After listening to this album, one could conclude that the foundation was built for stellar albums to follow. A few years later, they released ALLIED FORCES, which is their best album, in my opinion. Still, this should go down as a classic album by an extremely underrated band. Triumph has been a punching bag from critics, especially when the subject of the Hall of Fame surfaces. Triumph (like Rush) is taking it all in stride, because they put out great music for their fans, and that’s all that matters. I recommend purchasing ALLIED FORCES, NEVER SURRENDER and THUNDER SEVEN in addition to this CD.
Triumph, Just a Game
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Even though this album wasn’t actually their debut, it was the first exposure to this talented Canadian trio for those of us in western Pennsylvania in the summer of 1979, courtesy of their radio hit “Lay It on the Line.” Featuring guitarist Rik Emmett’s soaring tenor over their tight rhythm and incisive guitar licks, it helped to establish them as a major player in the turn-of-the-decade rock scene. My vinyl copy of the LP lasted from then until just about a year ago.
Even more than their subsequent works, “Just a Game” demonstrated the considerable singing and songwriting abilities of drummer Gil Moore, in addition to making him a charter member of the Carmine Appice school of heavy drumming. “Young Enough to Cry” and “American Girls” amply prove his credentials
Though a bit inconsistent in spots, this release points in the direction their subsequent efforts would take, most notably the evolution of Rik Emmett’s guitar stylings, putting him in a class with such better-known contemporaries as Eddie Van Halen and countrymen Alex Lifeson and Frank Marino. Furthermore, his acoustic work, tantalizing previewed on “Fantasy Serenade” and “Hold On,” would later show influences as diverse as Jimmy Page and Spanish flamenco player Carlos Montoya.
Finally, “Just a Game” was the right album at the right time for Triumph, building a smooth bridge from 70’s progressive rock to the the harder-edged 80’s sound, also showing how the Canadians refined the power trio to an extent beyond that of their neighbors to the south or across the Pond.
I remember when “Allied Forces” was the hot new album & all of the buzz. Somebody made me a copy of it recently, & I thought, “This is cool”, but it kind of lay forgotten, & I assumed Triumph was a one album wonder. Yesterday, I turned on the radio while waiting for a friend to come out of her apartment & herad “Lay It On The Line”. I thought, “Who’s THIS?” I discovered it was Triumph & IMMEDIATELY purchased this CD. BOY, AM I GLAD I WAS MISTAKEN ABOUT THIS GROUP! I dont use… or take… this word lightly, but this album is a MASTERPIECE!!!! Rik Emmett has a classical influence to his guitar style, & it comes through on his slower compositions. (They still rock, but with a slower tempo) Now, I love flat out rocking as much as the next guy, (I’m a metalhead from back in the day!) but I think these slower tracks are where the band shine their brightest. My favorite track on here is the title track. I don’t know what else to say but WOW!!! “Young Enough To Cry” is a blues metal masterpiece in it’s own right. And for those who prefer the straight ahead rockers, this album has that, too. “Movin’ On” & “American Girls” are CLASSIC late 70’s/early 80’s hard rockers!!! I am listening to “Allied Forces” as I type this, & I may be wrong, but (IMHO)I think the difference between early & later Triumph is the later albums were more produced, making them a slightly commercial power pop metal. NOW, I’M NOT SAYING THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!! I need my head examined for EVER putting “Allied Forces” in the mothballs! So far, though, I prefer the early sound. Bottom line: If you want to hear some good old fashioned hard rock/classic metal equipped with some of the most beautiful guitar melodies ever laid down, BUY THIS ALBUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4 1/2 really. While Triumph was able to write great songs, this is their only release that sounds good from beginning to end. Lay It On The Line, Just A Game, & Suitcase Blues have to be on any release that calls itself a “Best of.”
The sweet, jazzy Suitcase Blues ranks among my favorite Triumph song and many times have I walked around with its melody and lyrics swimming through my head.
Take a few songs from each of their albums, place then on a double CD and you’ve got early 80s perfection. Before arthritis killed my “rock star” future, I played several Triumph songs on guitar and enjoyed each one of them.
Buy it NOW!
I was 15 years old and K-SHE 95 in St. Louis played Lay It On The Line. From that moment on I became a devoted fan for life. I ran out on my bicycle down to Cricket Records and bought the vinyl album with my allowance. Loved the game board on the inside of the album but most importantly, the music. It spoke to me and I can tell you that Triumph made great music throughout their career but never as good as they did on Just A Game.
Best songs: Young Enough To Cry, Just A Game, Lay It On The Line, Hold On and American Girls.
Anyone who is not all that familar with Triumph should buy this album first. This is the benchmark for everything that followed and the 2 albums before this one.
Commercially, Allied Forces was their big breakthrough and most successful album. Just A Game is the blue print for Allied Forces. First times a charm in this case.
This album reminds me of being 15 and getting turned on to the most explosive guitar and vocals, bass and drum attack I’d ever heard.
Anyone hesitating to buy this album should not think twice. Buy it now!