Archive for Gary Richrath

Great Rock Albums of 1984: REO Speedwagon- Wheels Are Turnin’

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2017 by 80smetalman

With the explosion of heavy metal onto commercial airwaves in 1984, it is not surprising that there would be casualties left in its wake. For me, my love for the music of REO Speedwagon would come to an end in this year. In my eyes and ears, their 1984 album, “Wheels Are Turnin’,” was a sell out and I came to the conclusion that the band had abandoned their more hard rock roots and had become a top forty band. The exact phrase I used at the time was “They went from being good and settled for being popular.” Thinking back, was my assessment of them and this album accurate? It is now, thirty years on, that I am revisiting “Wheels Are Turnin'” with a fresh set of ears and a much more open mind.

My very first impression at the time was that they had stayed true to their roots with their first single, “I Do’ Wanna Know.” This lively track is classic REO Speedwagon as I had always known them. It’s a fast hard track where lead guitarist Gary Richrath and keyboardist Neil Doughty show their musical talents off. In fact, if I were to compile a list of my favourite REO songs, “I Do’ Wanna Know” would most certainly be in the top five. Unfortunately for me, came their second single, their ultra successful mega hit, “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” While I have come to appreciate this song more in my mellowing old age, in 1984, I thought that the band where just trying to recapture the success they had with a previous successful song, “Keep on Loving You” from the “Hi Infidelity” album. At the time, that was a big turnoff for me.

The two singles after that were even bigger turnoffs to me. “One Lonely Night” didn’t fire me up in any way nor did “Live Every Moment.” It was here that I went off REO Speedwagon and found myself content to listen to their earlier classics, especially my all time favourite of theirs, “Nine Lives.” As I write this, I am feeling a little bit like a hypocrite. I have said on countless posts of albums that I don’t judge them by their singles, so why did I here? I think the reason was that on so many of their albums, including my fave, the singles from them were some of my favourite songs. I know that sounds a bit weak and that’s why I am asking if anyone knows where I time machine is located so I can got back to 1984 and tell my 23 year old self to give the “Wheels Are Turnin'” album a chance.

Unlike those other albums, some of the best tracks aren’t the singles, “I Do’ Wanna Know” being the exception. That will always be the best track on the album for me. However, with some of the other songs, they do go back more to their harder rock roots. “Thru the Window” and “Gotta Feel More” are great examples of this as is the title track at the end. However, on these songs and even the singles, the guitar talents of Gary Richrath aren’t ignored as he does wail on many of them. “Gotta Feel More” is probably Gary at his best on this album.

Gary Richrath

Track Listing:

  1. I Do’ Wanna Know
  2. One Lonely Night
  3. Thru the Window
  4. Rock N’ Roll Star
  5. Live Every Moment
  6. Can’t Fight This Feeling
  7. Gotta Feel More
  8. Break This Spell
  9. Wheels Are Turnin’

REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Gary Richrath- lead guitar

Neil Doughty- keyboards

Bruce Hall- bass, backing vocals

Alan Gratzer- drums, percussion, backing vocals

So the big question here is did REO Speedwagon sell out with the “Wheels Are Turnin'” album? My answer is possibly. They did have four singles from this album and only one of them I truly liked. However, there is plenty of evidence on the album to show that they hadn’t fully turned away from their harder past. My conclusion is that while I enjoy this album more in my older age, it still doesn’t match up to classics like “Nine Lives,” “Hi Infidelity,” “You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish” or “Good Trouble.” For me, those are the greatest REO albums of all time.

Next post: Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1984

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1504429543&sr=8-8&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1982: REO Speedwagon- Good Trouble

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Goodtrouble

Many people have said that REO Speedwagon’s follow up to the highly commercially successful “Hi Infidelity” album was a disappointment. True this album wasn’t the commercial success of its predecessor but that doesn’t make it a bad album in anyway. Quite the opposite, “Good Trouble” is, in my humble view, every bit as good as “Hi Infidelity,” possibly better. So, why didn’t it sell so well? I offer this explanation. In spite of the fact that they had two very big singles on “Hi Infidelity,” they didn’t want to have every song sound like “Keep On Loving You.” Instead, they went back to their roots which made them so good during the 70s. “Good Trouble” isn’t as hard and heavy as “Nine Lives” but reminds me a lot more of their excellent “You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album and that album was considered their best by many, although my fave is still “Nine Lives.”

I’m getting the impression as I revisit albums from 1982 that it seems to have been the thing to have the big single as the album opener. Every album I have covered so far has done this and the same happens with this REO classic. “Keep the Fire Burning” comes and goes and does the job its meant to do. It was a top ten single during a time when the charts actually meant something to me, well a little bit. After that, REO Speedwagon unleash hell for the rest of the way. “Sweet Time” begins like it’s going to be a ballad but then some rocking guitars kick in and the rest of the song goes totally up tempo. Then, three songs later, comes my hidden favourite track, “I’ll Follow You.” That song definitely brings me back to the glory days of REO Speedwagon. It starts hard and then Gary Richrath nails a killer solo. However, as much as I have praised Gary before the guitar altar, the track allows you to hear why Neil Doughty is such a fantastic keyboardist. Most certainly underrated among keyboard players. The other tracks are no less hard rocking. “Stillness of the Night” is a prime example on this scale as Gary shreds away big time on it. Then there is the paradox of the closer and title track. It ranks right up there with any good album closer but the track was also used as the opener when they toured on the album, versatility or what? So, ignore the charts and lack of commercial success, “Good Trouble” is a great rocker of an album.

Track Listing:

1. Keep the Fire Burning

2. Sweet Time

3. Girl With the Heart of Gold

4. Every Now and Then

5. I’ll Follow You

6. The Key

7. Back In My Heart Again

8. Let’s Be-Bop

9. Stillness of the Night

10. Good Trouble

REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- rhythm guitar, piano, lead vocals

Gary Richrath- lead guitar

Neil Doughty- keyboards

Bruce Hall- bass, lead vocal on “Let’s Be-Bop”

Alan Gratzer- drums, percussion

Maybe it was down to the lack of commercial success of “Good Trouble” their next album would be a total sell out. That’s a shame because “Good Trouble” is every bit a classic rocking album and reminds me of the time when REO Speedwagon was good and not settling for being popular.

Next post: The Go Gos- Talk Show

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: REO Speedwagon- Hi Infidelity

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2013 by 80smetalman

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Late February in 1981, I have just returned to the US after being in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean for six months. Desperately recovering from a six month diet of powdered eggs and milk, I go into the café at the PX. Being away from the American music scene for so long, I have a look at the juke box and I spy a new song from REO Speedwagon called “Keep On Loving You.” Naturally, I have to listen to it so I put my quarter in and wait. My thoughts upon hearing it was sure, it’s a power ballad but after “Time For Me to Fly,” I came to the conclusion that they did those well anyway. I thought the same with the song I was listening to at that moment, especially when Gary Richrath delivers with a killer guitar solo as he normally does. My ending thought was that a new album from REO Speedwagon was definitely a great thing to come back to when I returned home.

In order to appreciate this album, I had to take myself back to the same mindset I was in during 1981. I thought this was a great rocker of an album back then and listening to it again after so many years with that frame of mind reminded me so. The problem was is that when I first tried to remember the album, the power ballads came to mind first as did the two more pop sound tracks, “In Your Letter” and “Out of Season.” However, even those songs aren’t as poppy as I made myself believe, especially the latter where Neil Doughty shows he can dominate a keyboard. He does the same with the opener “Don’t Let Him Go” even though the song is a good album opening rocker. I also forgot what a great little rocker “Follow My Heart” was but two songs still stick out for me because some of the shit I went through in that year. The lyrics from “Take It On the Run” could have been written especially for me back then but still, the song is probably my favourite on the album. As he does with most of the songs, Richrath rocks it. The result of the last song made the next one on the album totally appropriate. I don’t want to bore you with details of my personal life, but if there had been a He Man Woman Haters Club, I would have joined it, nuff said on that. The songs after that one are all good rockers and the band shows a bit of versatility by letting Bruce Hall sing lead on “Someone Tonight.” The closer “I Wish You Were There” is another power ballad but it is takes the album out on the right note. It was no wonder, this album got played to death in my car stereo back in 1981.

Track Listing:

1. Don’t Let Him Go

2. Keep On Loving You

3. Follow My Heart

4. In Your Letter

5. Take It On the Run

6. Tough Guys

7. Out of Season

8. Shakin’ It Loose

9. Someone Tonight

10. I Wish You Were There

REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano

Gary Richrath- lead guitar, 12 string guitar, backing vocals

Neil Doughty- piano, synthesisers, keyboards

Bruce Hall- bass, lead vocal on “Someone Tonight”

Alan Gratzer- drums, backing vocals

This album would be a major turning point in some respects for REO Speedwagon. While “Hi Infidelity” is a rocking album, the fact that they would have a ballad type single in the Billboard Top Ten would prove to be their ultimate downfall. So you could say it was here where they would go from being good to being popular and they weren’t the only band this would happen to in 1981. Saying that, if you can forget all that history and just have a listen to the album, you will see why everyone I know was screaming about so much back in that year.

Next post: Styx- Paradise Theatre

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Pat Travers- Live! Go For What You Know

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by 80smetalman

Raise your hand if there has been a musical artist you like who you hadn’t t listened to in many years where when you finally do get around listening to them again, you remember how much you really liked them. I put up my hand to Pat Travers. He was another musical great who never made it onto being played on the old AM clock radio. I first heard about him when I saw this album advertised in a music catalog. Back in the late seventies, they use to have these record clubs where you get an initial offer of buying six albums for a penny to join but you had to buy so many albums in two years. It was such a catalog where I discovered Pat Travers.

Once again, it was my military experiences of widening my musical horizons where I finally got to listen to this great artist and it was this live album. “Live! Go For What You Know” was the perfect album to showcase all of his great songs and guitar talents. The most noted song from this album is “Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights” which many of the bands playing to bars and clubs in North Carolina seemed to play. I also really like “Hooked on Music,” “Go All Night” and “Heat in the Street” but all of the songs here are some powerful, blues based, kick ass rock and roll.

Often have I mentioned the ever growing list of underrated guitarists from the seventies and recently, I have consciously been more picky about who I add to the list. However, Pat Travers is one guitarist who definitely belongs on the list. I might even go as far as to equate him with the likes of some I’ve already mentioned like Gary Richrath, Craig Chaquico and Rory Gallagher, ok I can’t leave out Brian May. Travers can definitely bend the six string to his will and a listen to this great live album will confirm it.

Track Listing:

1. Hooked on Music

2. Gettin’ Betta

3. Go All Night

4. Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights

5. Stevie

6. Makin’ Magic

7. Heat in the Streets

8. Makes No Difference

Pat Travers

Pat Travers- guitar, vocals

Mars Cowling- bass

Pat Thrall- guitar, backing vocals

Tommy Aldridge- drums

The moral of the story here is don’t go a long time without listening to someone you know is good. I made that mistake here with Pat Travers and my excuse of not owning any of his material doesn’t cut it. So, I’m going to have to go out and buy this fantastic live album. Praise the Lord for Amazon! I think you should give it a listen too, I guarantee you won’t regret it. I am wondering and my buddy Stone started my mind rolling on this one, if Pat Travers is yet another great artist the numpties at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have ignored.

Next post: Olivia Newton John- Totally Hot

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums on 1979: REO Speedwagon- Nine Lives

Posted in 1979, 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2012 by 80smetalman

Nowadays, when REO Speedwagon is mentioned, the first thing that pops into most people’s heads are love rock ballads such as “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Keep On Loving You.” Yes, unfortunately REO Speedwagon is an example of what happened to a lot of great bands who managed to get a song in the top ten back in the early 80s. After that, they try to make all their songs sound like that hit single and abandoned the hard rock that got them there in the first place. They weren’t the only band this happened to either.

“Nine Lives” was the first ever album by REO Speedwagon I listened to and my total reaction to it was “This album really rocks!” From the heavy riffs of the opening track “Heavy On Your Love” through to the crunching guitars of “Only the Strong Survive” and the great hard rock musicianship that made “Easy Money” and their own rocking spin on the classic Beach Boys hit “Rock and Roll Music,” that finally culminates in the pure heavy finale of “Back On the Road Again,” I can say this album is a true rocker. The music is a far cry from some of their later stuff. It’s even heavier that their 1978 smash “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish.” Even the album cover suggests heavy metal. If they didn’t do it in 1979, some heavy metal band in the 80s would have definitely used a cover photo like this on their album. I will go on a limb and speculate that maybe Motley Crue got some of their image ideas from this.

Track Listing:

1. Heavy On Your Love

2. Drop It (An Old Disguise)

3. Only the Strong Survive

4. Easy Money

5. Rock and Roll Music

6. Take Me

7. I Need You Tonight

8. Meet Me On the Mountain

9. Back On the Road Again

REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar

Gary Richrath- lead guitar, B52 guitar

Neil Doughty- keyboards

Bruce Hall- bass, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Back On the Road Again”

Alan Gratzer- drums, percussion, backing vocals

For those who are only familiar with REO Speedwagon’s more pop oriented 80’s sound, then you must go back and listen to “Nine Lives.” The hard rock sound on this album will leave you asking yourself, “Is this the same band?” For this album is a true hard rocking classic and yes I will mention again what an underrated guitarist Gary Richrath has been. For he totally smashes it here!

Next Post: Hawkwind- PXR5

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1978: REO Speedwagon- You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish

Posted in 1978, Heavy Metal, Music with tags , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by 80smetalman

Forget about the ballads form the 1980s because back in the 70’s REO Speedwagon were a true hard rock outfit. Their seventh album, “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish” is a prime example of this. This album exudes rock all the way through with some great rocking tunes like “Roll With the Changes.” In this song, Gary Richrath shows exactly why I included him as one of the great guitarists of the 70s and his talents are still under appreciated today. I dare any true rocker to listen to this song and not say that they had a rocking vibe throughout.

In my last post, I stated that “How You Gonna See Me Now” was the first true power ballad. If that’s the case, then “Time for Me to Fly” would be the second. The problem was that I didn’t hear the song until 1980. Like your traditional ballad, it starts with the accoustic intro and builds up before exploding with heavy chords and reinforced by a killer solo from Richrath. Another triumph that makes this album so cool.

Track Listing:

1. Roll With the Changes

2. Time for Me to Fly

3. Runnin’ Blind

4. Blaze Your Own Trail, Again

5. Sing to Me

6. Lucky For You

7. Do You Know Where Your Woman Is Tonight

8. The Unidentified Flying Tuna Trot

9. Say You Love Me or Say Goodnight

REO Speedwagon

Kevin Cronin- vocals, rhythm guitar

Gary Richrath- lead guitar

Bruce Hall- bass

Neil Doughty- keyboards

Alan Gratzer- drums

Before they found the billboard singles charts, REO Speedwagon was a true hard rocking band. This classic album proves this.

Next post: The Cars

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Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle

Great Guitarists of the 70s

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by 80smetalman

When people think of the great rock guitarists in the 70s, they will almost always mention what I call the big 3, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.  

These three were considered by many to be the top of the heap back then. Eric Clapton thrilled many with his gutsy blues style and Jimmy Page opened a door with a new style for the many metal axemen which would follow him. Eddie Van Halen was the late comer, arriving on the scene in 1978 and carrying on into the 80s, he set the standard which other guitarists could only hope to achieve.

I’m sure many would put forward arguments for many other guitarists and rightly so. The 70s did have its share of those who could smoke the fingerboard. Of that many, the three I wish to put forward here are Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ted Nugent.

As a teenager in the mid and late 70s, I heard many would be guitarists copying the famous riffs on “Smoke On The Water” first played by Ritchie Blackmore when he was in Deep Purple. Blackmore had a style all his own. However, considered by many to be the “master of the riff” was Tony Iommi. You only have to listen to classic Sabbath songs like “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” to see why. Like Van Halen, Ted Nugent was a late comer for me. Sure, he had been around before then but it wasn’t until 1977 when I heard “Cat Scratch Fever” on my little AM only radio, that I would eventually realise that I was listening to one of the guitar greats.

As in the above, I am definitely sure that many would suggest a lot of guitarists for the final category, the “underrated guitarists.” There were many guitarists who are considered great but didn’t fully get the recognition they deserved. However, I am going to list the three who I feel were definitely underrated back then; Brian May, Gary Richrath and Craig Chaquico.

Most of the British readers may be a little shocked that I am including Brian May here. It is true that in Britain, he was already being put in the above category. However, this wasn’t the case in the USA. While Queen were often in the charts, I don’t remember much talk about May’s guitar skills back in the 70s. In fact, one person shot him down saying that the guitar was dubbed in fifteen times when Queen albums were being produced. Boy, I wish I had a time machine. That is why Brian May didn’t get the respect he deserved as a guitarist.

The problem is when people think of REO Speedwagon, they tend to think of their more commercial stuff in the 80s and don’t realise what a hard rocking band they were back in the 70s. I am going to touch on this more in the future. But this is why their guitarist Gary Richrath, still probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I challenge anyone to listen to the song “Roll With the Changes” of the album “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album and say differently. When I listen to that song and most of their other 70s stuff, I fully appreciate the guitar work of Richrath.

Back in the 1970s, Jefferson Starship were considered a band that made “mellow out love songs” and just about all of their singles were that. That is why their guitarist, Craig Chaquico, didn’t get the recognition he deserved back then. However, when I hear his solos on the songs “Run Away” and “Ride the Tiger,” I know that I am listening to a man who knows how to work the six string. Chaquico was a great guitarist and fortunately for him, Jefferson Starship changed to a more rocking sound in the 80s and his talents were given more appreciation.

I know there are many more axemen I could name here and everyone is invited to contribute who they think might have been a great guitarist in the 70s.

Next Post: Great Rock Albums of the 7os, Aeromsith- Toys in the Attic

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