Thursday, August 18, 2016

Re-upped: Tilt - Music (1978)

Detroit's Tilt were a quartet formed in the early 70's by Frank Ewing, Doug Kahan, Mike Harner and John Ponder. Having spent several years as a hot commodity on the Detroit club circuit, the band was spotted at a local gig in 1977 by music impresario, Russ Regan and inked a contract with Parachute Records, a subsidiary of Casablanca. The following year, the band's debut "Music" was issued. Though midwestern radio snapped up the record right away, national attention eluded the band. Despite prestigious opening slots with numerous huge touring acts, the band failed to catch fire and returned back to the Detroit clubs without a label. Lineup changes ensued, including future Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, Chad Smith. In the end, the band just seemed doomed to the regional circuit and finally drifted apart in the early 80's. Kahan would form Flash Kahan and later, DC Drive. Harner would move to Florida and embark on a solo career there. The remaining members whereabouts are unknown.

"Music" is a decent journeyman hard rock album with AOR flourishes here and there. With a sound that is clearly midwestern in tone, Tilt can be compared to just about any other band who sprang from the region in the late 70's. Head East, Bad Boy, The Godz and 707 are all good reference points, though the band doesn't sound like specifically like anyone else. Perhaps this inability to label the band was part of their undoing. Despite the lack of a strong identity, there are some great moments to be found here. "Just What I've Been Looking For", "Get It Again" and "Baby Do You Like It?" are all nicely crafted tracks that highlight the band's subtle songwriting diversity. Tilt could write southern rock, hard rock and arena rock with a decent amount of effectiveness, all of which can be heard here on "Music".

Since the album will probably never see reissue, here's a high quality transfer of the album for you to crank and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Re-upped: Flying Squad - Flying Squad (1978)

Flying Squad, a Scottish hard rock quartet from Glasgow, came together in 1976 from the ashes of local rock heroes, Rogue. After a lineup shift and a name change (The Boyz) which was halted by another band in Illinois, the band settled on the name Flying Squad. By now, the band had grown into a quintet, featuring future Waysted vocalist, Finn. Conquering the UK club circuit, the band was spotted at a live gig by a CBS Records exec and were quickly shuffled into the studio to record their debut. That debut came in the form of "Flying Tigers" and was produced by Status Quo's Francis Rossi. Though Rossi's name power and the potent material on the record should've helped the band get a firm grip on the charts, the album was met with indifference, partially due to the burgeoning punk scene that was beginning to take hold in the UK. Management disputes ensued and soon the band collapsed amidst in-fighting and financial woes. Finn would soon form Waysted, and several other members would regroup as The Difference. Finn now enjoys success in Denmark as a karaoke DJ personality.

Though this album has been slagged by many, it's actually a superb example of UK hard rock which takes liberal doses of american AOR to embellish upon its sound. The result is twelve vibrant tracks that gel together well. Finn never sounded better than he does here, folks. If you're a Waysted fan, it's imperative that you give this one a spin. Regardless, there's much to love about this criminally underrated and long forgotten piece of Scotland's contributions to the rock and roll pantheon.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Re-upped: American Noise - American Noise (1980)

Cleveland's American Noise were a short lived AOR act who enjoyed regional success in the late 70's before signing with Planet Records and issuing their self-titled debut in 1980. Bolstering hooky arena rock songwriting (with the help of Kim Fowley), the album is a consistently good example of what was springing from the midwest at the dawn of the new decade. With brothers, Craig and Bruce Balzer leading the way, this fine album flows effortlessly from track to track with little filler in the mix. A surprisingly good band, American Noise nevertheless found themselves being virtually ignored outside of their native region and were promptly without a label deal a year after their debut. Soon enough, members packed it in and the band effectively ceased operations in 1981. Not much is known of the members current whereabouts, though a number of them went on to work with Donnie Iris and Eric Carmen.

Jump on this clean vinyl transfer, as this one will probably never see legitimate reissue. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Re-upped: Glider - Glider (1977)

Glider were a studio project assembled by former The Lost & Chamaeleon Church (and briefly Ultimate Spinach) guitarist, Ted Myers. He quickly drafted Scott McCarl (Raspberries), Gene Barkin (The Grassroots), Eddie Tuduri (Boxer) & hotshot session men Steve Halter, Jeff Stillman and Jeff Eyrich to round out the lineup. The band were quickly signed in 1976 to United Artists Records and began production at Conway Recorders in Los Angeles. Subsequent sessions continued throughout most of the year at Sound City, Village Recorder, Studio 55, Whitney Recorders and Heider Filmways. Their self-titled album hit store shelves the following year, with lead-off single, "You're Like a Melody" making a valiant attempt at conquering the airwaves. Despite fairly solid songwriting, the single flopped and quickly the album faded into obscurity. The project was seemingly dead in the water before it really began. Members went on to work with Surf Punks, Tanya Tucker, Air Supply, Natalie Cole, Nick Gilder and John Cale. Myers later became a successful songwriter before eventually transitioning into A&R work for Rhino & Concord Records.

This nugget has been a curiosity for many AOR lovers over the last three decades. With a lavish front cover (courtesy Annie Neilson), one could only assume this is an exercise in pretentious pomp. Well, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is this is NOT pretentious pomp. The bad news is that it's not a mindblowing collection of lost AOR classics either. Honestly what we have here is a decent batch of mostly MOR 70's pop. Nothing terrible, but nothing really commanding your attention either. To Myers' credit, the writing here is mostly good, but his occasionally tuneless vocal delivery does tend to dull the edges a bit. There are big standouts though...such as the cynical "It's Too Bad", the rootsy "Always the Last One to Know" & my personal favorite "You're Like a Melody". The track bears a certain Pete Townsend stamp that seems at odds with the majority of this album's lightweight material.

Ripped by me (with my new USB turntable) from clean vinyl, here is Glider. Listen without prejudice and enjoy...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Baby Rocker - Young And Mean (1977)

Baby Rocker.  What a murky background this band has.  What little there is to know is rather convoluted.  What I can tell you is the band isn't German, which has been widely reported over the years.  Baby Rocker were 100% eclectic american rock.  This appears to be strictly a one-off studio project, helmed by principals Michael Lewis, Laurin Rinder, Ruben Banuelos and Mark Dulski.  Each of them were collectively and individually part of a stable of composers and producers of early west coast disco under various guises such as El Coco, Le Pamplemousse and Saint Tropez.  Prior to this period, Lewis had been a brief member of The Standells, worked as a fill-in for Nicky Hopkins in Quicksilver Messenger Service and also recorded a rather obscure album with Banuelos, "Willie and the Hand Jive" in short-lived outfit, Joshua.  Dulski's roots trace back the the late 60's in south central Arizona, with area bands The Hearsemen and Hobbit.  Los Angeles based AVI Records was the primary outlet for many of the early disco records produced by this stable and Baby Rocker was one of the few rock acts to find its way on the label's roster.

The record itself is a strange one for sure.  A veritable mishmash of styles and sounds.  Here you will find mainstream rock, west coast pop, progressive pomp, smooth jazz and even a brief excursion into big band cabaret.  I'm happy to say that the majority of the record leans towards rock and pomp, with plenty of synth parts adding to the quirky feel of the record.  Perhaps the strangest inclusion on the records comes by way of a bizarre straightfaced reworking of the old vaudeville standard, "Hooray For Hollywood".  With a honking synth bass and nickelodeon Wurlitzer propelling the track, it's a wacky foray into schmaltz that needs to be heard at least once.

So what's everyone up to now?  Lewis still produces and performs in Hollywood. Rinder has found success as a photographer and painter in Hollywood.  Banuelos produces and records in Casa Grande, Arizona.  Dulski's whereabouts are unknown but he is presumed to still be residing in Arizona.

I'm alive!

Yep, it's true.  I'm not dead.  I really have to apologize for the horrible lack of communication and content here at RFR.  Truth is, aside from my full-time career, my new musical project, writing music articles, liner notes, assisting with some CD reissue projects and compiling a book dedicated to the very music featured here over the years...well, I'm in over my head!  However, the new year has me thinking I really need to start posting here with some sense of regularity.  Daily?  Whoa, that's almost certainly an impossibility but I'd like to work on getting some things up here monthly.  Maybe bi-weekly if I can swing it.

I really appreciate that many of you have continued to interact here and share your insights.  It's nice to know that this blog hasn't been totally forgotten.  I have plenty of rare albums to share here for awhile, though that's been occasionally difficult at times.  The directive of this blog has always been to share music that isn't readily available at 50+ other blogs.  Many albums that were once holy grails are now easily obtainable from a ton of great fellow bloggers and via apps like Soulseek.  So, rather than push quantity over quality, I've always tried to be selective about what I post here.  I plan to keep that in mind moving forward.

So, let's see what I can whip up this week.  If you aren't already following me, be sure to add me to your newsfeeds and you'll be alerted when some new content has been added.  Happy New Year everyone and I'll see you real soon!