Album Info

EMI Music Distribution
Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock

Album Review

John Waite's second solo album, No Brakes, reached the Top Ten, almost entirely on the strength of "Missing You," a truly perfect single. The song deservedly became not just a number one hit, but one of those records that everybody knows, capturing a time yet transcending it to become part of the very fabric of pop culture. Put it this way -- Tina Turner covered it, and nobody noticed. It goes without saying that there isn't a song here as good as "Missing You," but that's not a fair comparison since it was more than enough that the moment of brilliance occurred at all. So, no, Mask of Smiles doesn't have a great should-have-been-a-contender single, yet it's a surprisingly strong, tight little record. After No Brakes, it is the strongest album Waite ever recorded (which may be the reason this concludes with a song called "No Brakes"), and it even had a single -- the insistent "Every Step of the Way" -- that stood out among the rest. No, it wasn't as brilliant as "Missing You," but few singles are. Instead, it was a great piece of mainstream pop craft, and that's really what the whole album is -- professionally crafted mainstream rock that's engaging because of its sense of craft. This is an album that plays with the past -- with the midsection devoted to a "Lust for Life" that isn't a cover but an "Ain't That Peculiar" that is -- yet thoroughly is in the present, with a lot of processed guitars, synchronized rhythms, and synthesizers. This, of course, means that it's thoroughly a product of its time, but there's a real energy to Waite's performances; plus, it's well-made and well-sequenced, so it plays like a hit album that never was.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Every Step of the Way
  2. Laydown
  3. Welcome to Paradise
  4. Lust for Life
  5. Ain't That Peculiar
  6. Just Like Lovers
  7. The Choice
  8. Yo're the One
  9. No Brakes
purchase full album