Just a Game
After building a devoted fanbase with their relentless touring schedule, Triumph finally earned their first big hit with “Lay It on the Line” from 1979’s Just a Game. It was sung by guitarist Rik Emmett—whose urgent, forward-pitched voice bore a striking resemblance to that of Geddy Lee of Rush, one of Triumph’s biggest influences. The song boasted a heaving, no-nonsense groove that had become the band’s stock in trade. The band’s earthy rhythms complemented the sky-high vocals and guitar solos, a symbiosis that recurs throughout this album, from “Lay It on the Line” and “Young Enough to Cry” to “Just a Game.” While the band would soon be adopted by the rapidly coalescing metal culture of the '80s, they were more attuned to the classic rock of the late '60s and early '70s, especially Alice Cooper, Free, and Cream. Their taste in brooding blues-rock was balanced with a talent for the rollicking fantasy of “Hold On,” which is one of those '70s-era hits that just begs for its own laser light show. For all its muscle, the album closes with the laconic but lovely “Suitcase Blues,” which could pass for a lost Paul McCartney gem.