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Showing posts from September, 2019

Since You're Gone: A Ric Ocasek Appreciation

Ric Ocasek passed away yesterday, and my heart sank when I saw the news. Don't know what you got 'til its gone and all that, but it's difficult to anticipate whose passing is going to affect you and how, and thinking about it too much is ghoulish anyway. The bottom line is that Ric Ocasek has had an outsize impact on the development of my music fandom, and I hadn't truly reflected on that fact until today.

Like my fellow Gen-Xers, I grew up hearing Cars songs as part of the tapestry of everyday life. "Magic" at the waterpark, "Moving in Stereo" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, "Drive" on a car ride at night (how perfect!), "You Might Think" and "Just What I Needed" at the mall or mini-golf course. I knew all the songs but couldn't name the band.

Freshman year of college I conducted an intensive self-education in pop music that started with greatest hits albums by "important" bands. During a rare trip to th…

REO Speedwagon: Find Your Own Way Home (2007)

Where We Left Off:
REO Speedwagon's 1996 album Building the Bridge was their first album not to chart since 1972's R.E.O./T.W.O.. But their appeal as a live concert draw continued to grow, especially as nostalgia for the 1970s and 1980s built.

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Though 11 years between albums certainly seems egregious, REO did release some new music during that span. The 1999 Epic compilation The Ballads featured two new love songs, "Just For You" (written by Kevin Cronin with Jim Peterik from Survivor) and "Til the River Runs Dry" (by Cronin and singer-songwriter Jimmy Scott).

But it would be another 8 years before new REO music appeared on the shelves. According to Cronin, a 2000 tour with Styx - specifically seeing a new generation of fans singing along with the old songs - lit a fire under the band to start working up new material again.

The result was Find Your Own Way Home, which came out in April 2007. The band self-released the record, and cut a deal with XM Satelli…

REO Speedwagon: Building the Bridge (1996)

Where We Left Off:
REO Speedwagon, like so many '80s arena rock giants, got chopped up by the early 1990s alternative buzzsaw. Their 1990 album The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog, and a Chicken was their worst-performing release in more than a decade. After sticking with the band for two rollercoaster decades, Epic dropped them.

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With no label, REO Speedwagon essentially started over in the early 1990s. After a hiatus during which guitarist Dave Amato toured with Cher and Richie Sambora, the band began taking gigs wherever they could get them. They went back to playing clubs and fairs, trying to win fans one show at a time the way they had in the early 1970s. It wasn't easy, and there were times when the future of the band was in serious doubt, but eventually it started to work.

Granted, they weren't so much adding new fans as they were reminding older ones they were still around. As singer Kevin Cronin put it in a 1996 interview with the Orange County Register, "The fa…