Category: REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ the Storm Out

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon             220px-ridinthestormout

TITLE:  Ridin’ the Storm Out

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #171

SINGLES: Ridin’ the Storm Out

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Son of a Poor Man

LINEUP: Mike Murphy, Gary Richrath, Neal Doughty, Gregg Philbin, Alan Gratzer. Joe Walsh slides in for a few tracks (!)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Three albums, three singers and only a couple of tracks worth your ears – but there’s one classic here.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: REO Speedwagon’s vocalist instability reared its head again. Kevin Cronin was booted out (or left on his own) during the recording of this album. He contributed a couple of songs and laid down a couple of vocals before he was ousted, but the band had Mike Murphy come in and re-do those vocals and finish the record.

The result is weird. Murphy’s voice isn’t really suited to a lot of the material, and the material itself isn’t that strong – most tracks are a downgrade from their second album.

The title track though is one of the classics of rock ‘n’ roll, yet with Murphy’s voice it doesn’t reach the heights as it did with Cronin’s live version.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Creative differences”. I think Cronin and Gary Richrath butted heads.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the original Cronin vocal for the title track.

GRADE: C+:  Bland, but big upgrade due to the title track. Exiled a lot of it, though.

REO Speedwagon – R.E.O./T.W.O.

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon 220px-REOTWO

TITLE:  R.E.O./T.W.O.

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Little Queenie, and I know some of these songs have been on deep cut radio, but I can’t really pick one out for sure.

LINEUP: Kevin Cronin, Neil Doughty, Alan Gratzer, Gregg Philbin, Gary Richrath

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Kevin Cronin joins, and the quality of song and performance is improved.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a rather mundane first album, REO signed Kevin Cronin up to be vocalist and there was immediately a spark. The songs were better, the performances were better, and while this still was rather generic Midwestern rock-and-roll, at least it was good generic Midwestern rock-and-roll.

There’s no doubt that Cronin pushed Gary Richrath to write better songs and Cronin’s vocal range allowed for more flexibility in arrangements and melody. Richrath also has some good moments as a lead guitarist here as well.

While this didn’t chart, nor did they release any singles from it, there was growing support in the Midwest for REO and this album eventually went gold on its merits.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Somehow they got Boots Randolph to play sax on “Little Queenie”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: Nothing earth-shattering here, but it’s a good record for deep cuts.

REO Speedwagon – R. E. O. Speedwagon

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon
TITLE: R. E. O. Speedwagon220px-Reospeedwagon
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Sophisticated Lady (#122 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 157 Riverside Avenue, Lay Me Down
LINEUP: Neal Doughty, Alan Gratzer, Terry Luttrell, Gary Richrath, Gregg Philbin
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Generic Midwestern band releases album of generic rock and roll songs without anyone having any idea that in ten years they’d be the biggest thing in the music industry.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: No, Kevin Cronin isn’t on this album – and take that what you will. This album is just…there. There’s nothing really bad or wrong about it (except the drum solo in Dead at Last, but it was 1971). There were some political cuts, but by 1971 opposing Vietnam wasn’t radical at all, even in the middle of Cornfield, Illinois.

157 Riverside Avenue is probably the song you know if you listened to any REO compilation or live album, but as a studio cut it’s as meh as the rest of this. If REO didn’t become the REO of 1981, this wouldn’t even be in print (not that I don’t like albums going out of print in the digital age but that’s another story).

NOTES & MINUTAE: The lead singer was Terry Luttrell. He left after this record. Well, actually Gary Richrath wanted to fight him and he fled into a cornfield.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: This thing wasn’t even released on cassette! (But it was on CD, because, money…)

GRADE: C : It’s the definition of generic and collectors of REO should have it, I guess. I’m not keeping it.

EXILED