Category: The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers – The Good News and the Bad News

ARTIST: The Rainmakers                             220px-Rainmakers_GoodNews

TITLE: The Good News and the Bad News

YEAR RELEASED: 1989

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Spend It on Love, Hoo Dee Hoo

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no. They buried this one.

LINEUP: Bob Walkenhorst, Rich Ruth, Steve Phillips, Pat Tomek

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third Mercury album from sardonic, politically edgy band flops, even though it was a better record than their second.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After an uneven second album, the Rainmakers went back into the studio and tried to reclaim some of the career momentum they had and lost (everywhere but their home base of KC, and Scandanavia, because why not). And track for track, they made a good album that was more consistent than their previous one.

It didn’t sell. In fact, it was a well-kept secret. These things happen with record companies.
The themes of the record are familiar to Rainmakers fans: the common man’s problems and other social observations sung with religious fervor. The imagery in the lyrics are sometimes spiritual, sometimes apocalyptic, sometimes they evoke sadness, or even the hardscrabble poor.

There’s nothing as high as their best ever songs, but most of these tracks fit comfortably in any other album and really, it was a shame it was buried by Mercury.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released a live album from Oslo and Wichita (!) in 1990 which concluded their Mercury contract.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, they released an acoustic EP and it was appended.

 GRADE: B+: It could have been another college radio hit. Alas…

The Rainmakers – Tornado

ARTIST: The Rainmakers       R-1368277-1213474079.jpeg

TITLE: Tornado

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #116

SINGLES: Small Circles, Snakedance (#31 Modern Rock), No Romance

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wages of Sin

LINEUP: Bob Walkenhorst, Steve Phillips, Rich Ruth, Pat Tomek

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Follow up to their snarky debut has more bile than snark and really doesn’t connect with audiences.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Musically, the second album by the Rainmakers is more diverse, and has better and more varied arrangements than their debut record. Yet, the songs on this go around seem bitter, a bit detached, and less humorous for the most part.

Bob Walkenhorst also tries to be a bit more serious at times, and there he’s more heavy handed than poignant, and that takes away from the musical improvement.

Still, “Wages of Sin” and “Rainmaker” are pretty good 80’s alternative / college rock, and some of the other cuts only falter because they do sound dated a bit. Yet, it’s still kind of a disappointment after the way the college crowd jumped on their first one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Stephen King (the author, not the asshat congressman) was a fan and quoted their lyrics in a couple of his books.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, leftover cuts and B-sides 

GRADE: B-: Enough decent stuff to make it passable, but it’s still rather much a lyrical disappointment.

The Rainmakers – The Rainmakers

ARTIST: The Rainmakers R-1031191-1424689680-6472.jpeg
TITLE: The Rainmakers
YEAR RELEASED: 1986
CHART ACTION: #85
SINGLES: Let My People Go-Go (#18 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Downstream, Government Cheese
LINEUP: Bob Walkenhorst, Rich Ruth, Steve Phillips, Pat Tomek. The Memphis Horns add horns when needed.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Midwest rockers use skewed, ironic, and literate lyrics about religion, politics and vagaries of modern life to spice up their rootsy rock-and-roll

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Rainmakers were a great band for a college radio station. They weren’t weird, musically, so everyone liked to listen to them (not that being weird is bad, of course, but most of the audience isn’t like me where weird is good), and the lyrics were sardonic and literate so that college students could laugh at them and go “Hey, that’s funny. I should quote that…”

This also was a pretty good record to listen to outside of the radio. The Rainmakers music was basic roots rock, which in the 80’s was in short supply outside of a few mainstream acts. That backing made observations like “Rockin’ at the T-Dance” or “Let My People Go-Go” go down smoother. That and using “hugger mugger” when talking about the Scribes and Pharisees.

This is dated, of course. “Government Cheese” doesn’t come up in anyone’s conversation anymore, and when they get more serious and not satiric, they suffer. Still, this is good nostalgia for us in the college radio biz back in the day.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Singer and songwriter Bob Walkenhorst was originally the drummer, but became the frontman when they got signed. They had an independent album released as “Steve, Bob and Rich” before being they were signed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with a decent B-side, acoustic cuts, live cuts, etc.

GRADE: B+: A fun listen, and it reminds one of the Reagan-era (whether that was a good time or a bad time for you).