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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rubber Rodeo - Scenic Views*, Heartbreak Highway~

Name: Rubber Rodeo
Album(s): Scenic Highway*, Heartbreak Highway~
Year(s): 1984*, 1986~
Style: New Wave, Alt-Country
Similar Bands: Roxy Music, Wilco, REM. Let's Active, Cockrobin, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos, B-52's, Enya, Pretenders
One Word Review: Collegiate Cowboy Prairie Ramblers
Based Out Of: Rhode Island
Label: Mercury, PolyGram
 Scenic View - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
Scenic View - Back, Liner Notes, Record 
Heartbreak Highway - Cover & Record
Heartbreak Highway - Back, Record
Scenic View (1984)
  1. Need You Need Me 4:39
  2. Slow Me Down 3:31
  3. Anywhere With You 4:40
  4. Walking After Midnight 3:56
  5. City of God 5:13/
  6. The Hardest Thing 3:15
  7. House of Pain 4:45
  8. Mess o' Me 5:03
  9. Before I Go Away 5:57
Heartbreak Highway (1986)
  1. Heartbreak Highway 4:33
  2. If You're Ever Alone 4:10
  3. Everybody's Talkin' 3:40
  4. Souvenir 3:48
  5. The Civil War 4:14/
  6. Deadtown 4:43
  7. When Worlds Collide 4:13
  8. Look Who's Back 4:11
  9. Maybe Next Year 4:28
Album Rating(s)(1-10): *6.0
~6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Bob Holmes - Vox, Guitar, Mandolin, Violin*~ (The Crusty Gentlemen, Raining Violet)
Trish Milliken - Vox, Keys*~
Gary Leib - Synth*~
Mark Tomeo - Pedal Steel, Dobro*
Doug Allen - Bass* (The Crusty Gentlemen)
Barc Holmes - Drums, Percussion*~
Hugh Jones  Producer, Engineer*
John Doelp - Bass, Musical Direction*~ (The Commercials, Human Sexual Response)
Hal Cragin - Bass~ (Iggy Pop, MOno Puff, Hal Y Burton, They Might Be Giants, Vic Chestnutt)
Ray Gantek - Pedal Steel, Dobro~ (The Two Tons, Randle Chowning Band)
Ken Scott - Producer, Engineer~
Don Rose - Executive Producer*~
Frank Opolko - Accordion, Asst. Engineer~ (Sting, Corey Hart, Dutch Mason Blues Band)
Howie Weinberg - Mastering*~
Ian Taylor - Mixing~
Mars Williams - Sax~ (Waitresses, Billy Idol, Psych Furs, Power Station, Audio One, Boneshaker, Cinghiale, Everplastic, Harrison Bankhead Quarter/Sextet, Keefe Jackson's Likely So, Liquid Soul, NRG Ensemble, Slam!, Switchback, Trio Red Space, Witches & Devils, Swollen Monkeys)
Paul Maxon - Art Direction / Design, Photography*~
Kathe Schreyer - Art Direction / Design*
Alan Dockery - Art Direction / Design, Photography*~
Robin Ross - Design & Photography
Ernesto Bejarano - Band Photo*
Mike Grecco - Band Photo~
Second Story TV = Television*
William Garrett - Asst. Engineer*
Caryl Wheeler - Asst. Engineer*
Don Peterkofsky - Asst. Engineer~
Fernando Kral - Asst. Engineer~

Robert Di Gioia - Asst. Engineer~
Gerry Kitchingham - Recording & Mixing*
Louis Austin - Recording & Mixing*
Lisa Faith - Outfitter*
Sherwin Derby - Outfitter*
Marylin Salvatore - Outfitter~
Derek Schulman - Other Vision*
Richard Bone - Other Vision*
Frank Riley - Singer Management*
FAT Artists - Management*~


Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but based on the years and artwork, it seems like it will be some sort of honkytonk midwest new wave. 

Album Review: Rubber Rodeo basically all went to school together at the Rhode Island School of Design, and even featured the married songwriting team of Holmes & Milliken. They started out on fire, even getting a Grammy nomination for Long Form Video in 84, for Scenic Views. Their second album was not received well, and although they were dropped from their label, they kept going for a few years more. Once the band ended in the late 80’s, the married couple ended their union shortly after.

“Need You Need Me” starts with a few chants, and follows up with some road weary, echoing cowboy guitar. The vocals are shared by both husband & wife, and there a western movie set imagery is created by the song. The chorus of back and forth repetition of the song title between the couple is pretty catchy, especially how it comes in after the lone-range guitar. It does draw out and last a little longer than it needs to.
“Slow Me Down” possesses more of arena rock soundscape architecture with long and drawn out chords. There is a bit of an urgency in the verse, which is medicated by the chorus, which does in fact, slow down
“Anywhere With You” was a moderate hit. It is a peppy new wave song with lots of hooks and jangly guitars. It builds well, making you anticipate an emotional release in the chorus with a solid build. This is fully sung by Trish. There is a backing female chorus supporting the lead vocals. The chorus plays out to a fade, and although it too is a little too long, it is a solid hit and example of the era.
“Walking After Midnight” is a Patsy Cline cover. It offers a few sound effects hinting at a haunting, slow tempo. The country twang guitar kicks the song into a reliable structure. The female vocals are deep, and strained a bit. The whole atmosphere the song creates feels sparse.
“City of God” continues with the loud, power chords that swell with arena rock. The male vocals here feel like they are fluttering with emotion. So yeah, it feels like a quite preachy song of religious, evangelical enlightenment of not being able to go back to his former life, having found the city of god. I’ll be happy to never hear this song again.

“The Hardest Thing” was the first unsuccessful single. It has some echo-y bass and keyboards working a call and response in the beginning. Female vocals, generally deep in tone follow the melody unremarkably. The harmonized chorus places the listener into open-tundra soundscapes, like much of the era’s musical tone.
“House of Pain” is a mid tempo religious song with male vocals. The guitars wail in the background, empathizing with the vocals, blaming his point of focus on creating his house of pain. The lyrics are pretty stupid, and could be viewed to be typical country music topics. There is a whole section of him complaining about bringing home bacon for his lady to cook, but he goes on to explain how he likes his breakfast. Seems very misogynistic, and places all of the emotional blame of his painful relationship on the woman…but he’d do it all over again.
“Mess o' Me” is a paceless new wave song, that never quite captures a tempo, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The female vocals are like a witchy-Blondie. But about 1:45 in, the song finds a catchy cohesive chorus. There are a bunch of new wave elements that must have come with all of the 80’s synthesizers: twinkles, crystalline charms, zooming waves. Separated out, the chorus is very good, rising and falling and still pushing forward.
“Before I Go Away” slowly fades up with female vocals, with a theatrical presentation, echoing, repetitive waves of soothing. Once it gets to about 2 minutes, it transitions into an orchestral, Annie Lennox or Enya style song for a short burst. It kinda feels like all of the songs in Ween’s catalogue I never hope they play live. The chorus hits again 2 minutes later, with some classical chanting and feel.

“Heartbreak Highway” starts the album off with a couple haunting & western elements that then combined into a driving song. The female vocals sound more confident than the first album, and a little B-52’s-ish. The chorus has a nice melody rollercoaster. And toward the end there is even be a sax, and definitely some slide guitar action. It is a solid song.
“If You're Ever Alone” an over-processed drum roll begins this country ballad with some pep, sounding a little like a sit com theme song. The vocals feel a little like the Pretenders, but in an AOR, AM light rock way.
“Everybody's Talkin'” slowly fades up, with the famous melody from Midnight Cowboy. It is a cover of the Fred Neil (covered by Nilsson for the film) song, and features some synthesized effects on the slide guitar, but is otherwise pretty mellow, with a slight anxious metronome-like beat.
“Souvenir” continues the male vocals, with a slide guitar, toe-tapping bass line, and toy-piano sounding accents. The female vocals come in for s second verse, and they harmonize in the chorus. The song is not bad, but it feels a little empty, and is lacking one more hook or something to make it stand out & be catchy.
“The Civil War” starts off with harmonica and typical campfire cowboy on the prairie ballad. Banjo and strings are added to the slowly growing song. It carries with it a sad reflectiveness that turns patriotic around the midway point. The established melody is transcribed with a bunch of different instruments and instrument effects, from electric guitar to keys to sax, getting bolder and more empowered with each incident

“Deadtown” is also a shared vocal song, with many 80’s new wave synth elements, and a kinda of jittery, guitar based melody. The song also feels theatrical, particularly in the dense, icy chorus.
“When Worlds Collide” has a pulsing, anxious beat, and echoy instruments over the shared vocals. The verse feels like it is going to build into an explosive chorus, but instead, it scales down, and the chorus is a subdued, harmonized hookless melody.
“Look Who's Back” echoing tubular bells start the song, with female/Pretenders like vocals. The melody is kind of dreamy, incorporating soaring slide guitar in the forefront and bouncy synth underneath. Stripped down, this could probably be the catchiest song on the album, but unfortunately, for my taste, the slide guitar battles the speed and design of the rest of the song, and it comes out winning, detracting from the song as a whole.
“Maybe Next Year” slows the album down for a country ballad, with straight up country male vocals. Slide guitar is the main enforcer of this song too. It is a little sad, but hopeful at the same time. The female vocals do accompany the song, but really only fall to the background.

Stand Out Tracks:* Anywhere With You

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