Friday, September 17, 2010

Rabbitt - Rock Rabbitt (1978)

South Africa's Rabbitt formed in the city of Pretoria out of the ashes of local favorites The Conglomeration. The Conglomeration (1968-1971) consisted of Trevor Rabin, Neil Cloud, Ronnie Friedman and Allan Rosenberg and were local favorites, winning a Battle of the Bands competition in 1971. Despite squeaking out a single, "Locomotive Breath" in 1972, the band (now calling themselves Rabbitt) effectively split when Cloud joined the South African Army. Two years later, upon Cloud's discharge, Rabin, Cloud and Friedman regrouped adding Duncan Faure to the lineup.

The band landed a record deal with SA label Jo'Burg Records, as well as international licensing through Capricorn Records (US). By late 1975, the band had recorded their debut "Boys Will Be Boys", which became a huge success in their homeland. The band literally exploded onto the scene and by the time their sophomore album "A Croak And A Grunt In The Night" was issued in 1977, Rabbitt were mega-stars. Soon word spread and North American/European promoters were clamoring at the prospect of bringing the band to a whole new level. Unfortunately, the political upheaval occurring in their homeland brought the band's global aspirations to a halt, prompting Rabin to depart. The band soldiered on as a trio, releasing one last album "Rock Rabbitt" in 1978 before splitting later that year.

Rabin later worked as a solo artist, as well as becoming a key member of Yes. Since 1994, he has worked almost exclusively scoring films. Faure would later join the Bay City Rollers (aka The Rollers) before settling in Los Angeles with bands Karu, The Joybuzzers, Blue Bottles and as a solo performer. Friedman has enjoyed moderate success working in production and Cloud toured with Peter Frampton breifly before retiring from the business. He now manages an office furniture company in South Africa.

"Rock Rabbitt" is easily the most difficult to find of the band's three albums & it is also the only album penned exclusively by Faure. With prominent keyboards & glossy production, the album is somewhat of a stylistic departure from the band's eclectic earlier material. There's a lot of Lennon influences throughout as well as some slight touches of early new wave in places. This would be something Faure would bring with him during his tenure with The Rollers. In fact, "Hello And Welcome Home" (as well as b-side "I Was Eleven" released around this time) would be recut in a rearranged form by The Rollers in 1979.

Though I think this is a fine effort by Rabbitt, there is a fragmented feel in most of the tracks here which I think lack Rabin's knack for clever arranging. In any case, here's a long lost relic from South Africa that I think any Rabbitt, Trevor Rabin or BCR fans will find interesting at the very least. Dig in and enjoy this time capsule from 1978!