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Do you like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little new wave for some, but when Sports came out in ’83, the band had really came into their own, commercially and artistically. Hey, Paul, listen to Huey Lewis himself dive into the record, including standout single “I Want a New Drug,” on this episode of The Story Behind the Song! Listen above or wherever you get your podcasts.

Featuring songs like”Heart and Soul,” “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” and “If This Is It,” Sports spent a whopping 160 weeks on the charts, with all four of the aforementioned tracks cracking the Top 10. It’s now sold over seven million copies in the United States alone, establishing itself as a commercial titan and a cultural signifier for the mid-1980s. The album recently received a 40th anniversary reissue to celebrate its undeniable legacy.

But what exactly made Sports so special? For one thing, it was incredibly eclectic, pulling influence from R&B, soul, and pop. As Lewis explains, the band set out to fuse such influences into something new, and something primed for radio success. “The LinnDrum had just been invented, so we got one of these things. And my idea was to combine the up to the minute technology of the LinnDrum and the old school songs that we were writing,” he recalls. “That record, which looks on the cover to be just a bar band just jamming, is anything but. We put it together piece by piece.”

And sometimes, it took a little re-piecing. When distribution for the band’s label, Chrysalis, was bought by CBS, Lewis decided to hold the record until after their upcoming tour. Halfway through the “Working for a Living Tour,” they sat down and listened to the record again — and weren’t satisfied. “So we put the record on and played it, and I went pfff,” Lewis recalls. “It just wasn’t happening. It was just not good. ‘I Want a New Drug’ wasn’t grooving enough. So I screamed ‘foul,’ and convinced the record label and my manager that we needed to go back in the studio and re-record… We re-recorded ‘I Want a New Drug,’ ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll,’ ‘Walking on a Thin Line,’ and ‘Bad Is Bad,’ all cut to the LinnDrum machine.”

Listen to Huey Lewis explore Sports, “I Want a New Drug,” and more via the player above, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can also watch a clip of the interview above, or via YouTube. Make sure to follow The Story Behind the Song for all the fresh and archival episodes coming in Season 2, and rate and review on Apple Podcasts to show your support for our series.

The jukebox musical based on the music of Huey Lewis and the News, The Heart of Rock & Roll, is making its Broadway debut this week as previews begin March 29th. — grab tickets here. Also, make sure to check out the new TSBTS merch — including a killer poster and jigsaw puzzle — available now at the Consequence Shop or via  the buy now buttons below! You can also follow host Peter Csathy on Threads at @pcsathy and at Deep Cuts Media, and keep up with the Consequence Podcast Network for updates on all our shows.