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!