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Friday, May 1, 2015

(the) Rockets - Turn Up The Radio~ No Ballads^, Back Talk*

Name: The Rockets
Album(s): Turn Up The Radio~, No Ballads^, Back Talk*
Year(s): 1979~, 1980^, 1981*
Style: Pub Rock, Bluesy Rock, Powerpop, Southern Rock
Similar Bands: J Geils Band, Cactus, Foreigner, Meatloaf, Bob Seger, Bad Company, ZZ Top*
"One-Word" Review: Steady pub snacks.
Based Out Of: Detroit, MI
Label: RSO~^, Elektra*
 Turn Up The Radio~ - Cover & Record
 Turn Up The Radio~ - Back & Record
 No Ballads^ - Cover & Record
 No Ballads^ - Back & Record
 Backtalk* - Cover, Sleeve, Record
 Backtalk* - Back, Sleeve, Record
 Backtalk* - Promo Folder, Headshot
 Backtalk* - Promo Bio
  Backtalk* - Promo Bio
  Backtalk* - Promo Bio
  Backtalk* - Promo Bio
 Backtalk* - Promo Bio
Turn Up The Radio (1979)~
  1. Can't Sleep 3:04
  2. Turn Up The Radio 3:05
  3. Oh Well 3:19
  4. Lost Forever, Left for Dreaming 6:48 /
  5. Long Long Gone 2:59
  6. Love Me Once Again 3:55
  7. Something Ain't Right 4:56
  8. Lucille 2:57
  9. Feel Alright 4:39
No Ballads (1980)^
  1. Desire 3:30
  2. Don't Hold On 4:15
  3. Restless 2:55
  4. Sally Can't Dance 3:55
  5. Takin' It Back 5:00/
  6. Time After Time 4:20
  7. Sad Song 3:22
  8. I Want You to Love Me 3:50
  9. Is It True 4:28
  10. Troublemaker 5:30
Backtalk (1981)*
  1. Back Talk 3:52
  2. Jealous 4:09
  3. Lift You Up 3:43
  4. Shanghaied 3:59
  5. Love for Hire 4:00/
  6. I Can't Get Satisfied 3:44
  7. Tired of Wearing Black 4:15
  8. I'll Be Your Lover 3:20
  9. American Dreams 3:53
  10. Lie To Me 5:04
Album Rating (1-10): ~7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jimmy McCarty - Guitar, Backing Vox (Mitch Ryder & Detroit Wheels, The Hell Drivers, Cactus, Buddy Miles Express, Catfish Hodge, Raymond Louis Kennedy, Albert King, Bob Seger)~^*
Johnny "Bee" Badanjek - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vox (Mitch Ryder & Detroit Wheels, The Hell Drivers, Detroit, Alice Cooper, Dr John, Edgar Winters Group, Nils Lofgren)~^*
Dennis Robbins - Slide/Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vox~^*(Billy Hill)
David Hood - Bass ((Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Traffic, Boz Scaggs, Aretha Franklin, WIlson Pickett) ~
John Fraga - Bass~(Happy Dragon Band, Larry Santos, Albert King)
David Gilbert - Vox ~^*(Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes, Shadow, The New Order)
Donnie Backus - Keys, Backing Vox~^* (Nugent)
Kurt Klazel - Engineer~
Steve Tillisch - Asst Engineer~
David Pinkston - Asst Engineer~
Norman Seeff - Photography & Design~
Max Black - Photography & Design~
Jim Evans - Logo Design~
Chuck Leavell - Organ Clavinet~ (Allman Brothers Band, Sea Level, George Harrison)
Johnny Sandlin - Producer~^
George Marino - Mastrering~
Jim Hamblin - Road Manager
Dan Keylon - Bass^
Lee Michaels - Organ^ (The Family Tree, Steve Miller Band, Tim Curry, Jimi Hendrix)
Glenn Ross - Art Direction~^
Anita Pointer - Backing Vox^ (Pointer Sisters)
Ruth Pointer - Backing Voz^ (Pointer Sisters)
Tim Owens - Design^
Tom Flye - Engineer^
Rich Sanchez - Asst Engineer^
Gary Lazar - Manager, coordinator~^*Cover Concept*
Stan Ricker - Mastering^
Moshe Brakha - Photography^
Devon Stacey - Drum Crew^
Mike Lilley - Sound Tech^
Bobby Neil Haralson - Bass*
Jack Douglas - Producer, Percussion* (John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, The Knack, Graham Parker)
Jimmy Z - Harmonica* (Faster Pussycat, Rod Stewart, Weird Al Yankovic, Shakespear Sister, Corey Hart, Flesh-N-Bone, Dr Dre, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Etta James)
Eric Ernst - Road Manager, Lighting Director^*
Elmer Haggadone - Equipment Manager~^*
Dave Golder - Sound Tech*
Steve "New Wave" Lane - Bus Driver, Equipment*
Lee De Carlo - Engineer*
Bill Freesh - Asst. Engineer*
Greg Calbi - Mastering*
Ron Coro - Art Direction*
Dave Willamston - Illustration, Design*
Charlie White - Illustration*
Paul Mussa - Design*
Robert Mattheu - Photography*

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band, and I picked up three albums at two different times. They look like a typical blue collar, pub rock band focused on AOR style guitar rock. I don't expect it to be much different.

Album Review: This band was born from the collaboration of the guitar and drums from Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. But they adopted a more southern bluesy rock inspired style for this band. They appeared on The Midnight Special TV show. They never made it really huge outside of the Detroit area, but they worked with some artists that went on to work with some big names. Singer David Gilbert died of liver cancer in 2001.

“Can't Sleep” starts with a bouncy, funky bass beat and strutting guitar and drums. It definitely has a Foreigner – J Geils Band feel to it: gritty with strained vocals and a touch of blues.
“Turn up the Radio” was a single. It revves up with a power pop start and shrill vocals. It is a pretty catchy song, full of energy from start to finish. Even the piano carries the tempo with a jovial nature. The guitar solo could be found on an album by anyone from Social Distortion to Cheap Trick.
“Oh Well” was a Fleetwood Mac cover and a top 40 hit for them. It shuffles in with a stealthy swagger. And without the piano, could possibly be considered to be comparable to a Black Sabbath guitar riff with Led Zeppelin styled vocals. The song jams out freely as the instrumental section comes early, and the song ends abruptly.
“Lost Forever, Left for Dreaming” is more ballady, with a meandering guitar intro. Calmed vocals introduce the melody, which has a little Boston-More Than a Feeling similarity. It does not build into the climactic energy; however, it stays the lighter inducing, mellow course. The face melting slow jam seems to last a very long time, and it comes back for a harmonized Allman Band style chorus. With the fade out, it feels like an album ender, not the end of side one.

“Long Long Gone” starts out with a smooth power pop tempo, and lyrics that stumble over the melody. The chorus builds and is catchy, but the song over all does not have much power behind it, and is hard to classify other than a steady, sturdy track.
“Love Me Once Again” builds up with power chords and a Chuck Berry guitar. The bluesy, country barroom tone dances through like a Meatloaf showtune. Maybe a little Rolling Stones-like too. The vocals really carry the emotion of the song.
“Something Ain't Right” is very slow and a little unsure from the get go. It is a ballad, with a little bit of reflective tempo for the chorus. It could easily be produced differently, slowed down even more and simplified for a female R&B (Etta James) song thanks to its tone and melody.
“Lucille” is a bouncy bar room stomp with an oldies structure. Very simple straightforward rock and roll with a honkytonk base and passionate vocals.
“Feel Alright” is a building song, as it is constantly building the entire time. Even the chorus builds its momentum, which is the best part of the song, singing “Everybody / Come over”. It’s not fast or slow, but steady, with a pounding, pulsing bass beat.

“Desire” Was a single from this album. It starts with an echoing, chugging heavy guitar. It has some Rolling Stones slickness to it, with a little more concentrated energy in the guitar solos. But it never really goes anywhere. The chorus that it tries to reach is just an instrumental section. The nervous piano pulsing can instigate restless leg syndrome.
“Don't Hold On” is a southern bluesy song with swamp swagger and funk.
“Restless” is less funky, but still steams off a bluesy rock n roll fog, with a contemplative breakdown before it transitions into the instrumental. The structure is power chords played in sets of two.
“Sally Can't Dance” features two of the Pointer Sisters on backing vocals. Like the rest of the album, it neither really rocks nor croons. It is somewhere in the middle. It’s a jammy version of power pop, incorporating the bluesy slink of the bass.
 “Takin' It Back” rushes forward from the start with a sprinting tempo and fast electric Chuck Berry guitars and after it climbs to the top, it rides the rollercoaster down. There is a weird strained “Mmmmm” vocalization in the song that is a little creepy, but otherwise, this is a catchy as hell song. It does go on for a little too long, jamming out at the end to be a nice, compact pop song.

“Time After Time” pulses along nicely in the chorus, with a focus and build to the chorus. The chorus delivers, but does not completely deliver the energy anticipated. This feels like a J Geils Band song.
“Sad Song” pretty much says it all in the title, even if the melody is upbeat in a Bee Gees harmonized way in the chorus. This feels like an early 80’s sitcom theme.
“I Want You to Love Me” is dark version of Jail House Rock. It flattens out and loses the darkness, but the basic melody remains.
“Is It True” takes it back to a dripping, bluesy swamp rock song. The vocals are reigned in more here, they don’t seem to have the emotional diversity of the rest of their catalogue. But by the end of the song, he does let loose more.
“Troublemaker” is a relaxed slow-funk-jam. Even the couple of power chords in the chorus don’t ramp it up enough to get out of the chair to change the TV channel. As it fades out, the shaking feedback of the electric guitar is eerie and interesting at the same time.

“Back Talk” almost has a Duran Duran like quality to it, and it feels smoother and more produced than the other two albums. The drums are tighter and the bass line sounds synthesized. I like the shift in guitar style about 2 minutes in, it gets peppier and catchier. But it is only for a brief section. Overall, the song kind of sounds neutered, and I believe it is because of the production.
“Jealous” has a bit of a mystical feel to it, a wandering windswept landscape that becomes a hair band rock song.
“Lift You Up” begins with a somewhat bouncy bass line, like an uncomfortable mash of funk and country. The song seems to have a spiritual connotation. The instrumental is mainly a jammy wah-wah guitar.
“Shanghaied” is a free-flowing rock song, reminding me a little of Aerosmith mixed with J Geils. It has a honkytonk swagger and some new wave keyboard sounds. The vocals have a lot of passion, and are supported by a strong female set of vocals. The chorus is very catchy and really sells the song as a whole as the hook to look forward to.
“Love for Hire” sounds like their song from the first album “Lost Forever, Left for Dreaming” in the verse. The chorus is a repeating, half-hearted uttering of the song title that just feels incomplete. Some of the emotion in the vocals reminds me of Roger Daltrey.

“I Can’t Get Satisfied” goes back to the piano based barroom bluesy jam. There is a playful tone that runs throughout the song, from talking about joining a band to the bouncy bass line and complementary piano.
“Tired of Wearing Black” reminds me of a Sammy Hagar song, It is kind of meandering and unfocused, creating more of a renegade pent-up atmosphere than a followable melody. And then some ZZ Top guitars are added in for good and relatable measure.
“I'll Be Your Lover” is a bouncy number, that almost shares a passing resemblance to Devo at the beginning. But the harmonica and the way the vocals are just slapped over the pulsating music takes away the new wave fun quality. The backing harmonized vocals also pull it away from the nervous, anxious tempo the bass and guitar create.
“American Dreams” is a power ballad dedicated to ‘murican pride. The verse is just a solid harmony, supported by echoing power guitar licks.
“Lie To Me” takes the whole mood down a notch further with a real side-to-side swaying slow ballad, with a little Journey-like singing (just not quite as melodic). 


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