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Derringer, Rick: Joy Ride: the Solo Albums 1973-1980
Never one to be pigeon holed into one style of music, guitarist and singer Rick Derringer had already had mainstream success in 1965 with The McCoys and their hit "Hang On Sloopy" by the time he released his first solo album in 1973. Anyone expecting a repeat of the slick pop tunes would be delighted and confused, Derringer already setting the tone for what was to come by ranging his attack from pop to country, blues to hard rock. The key thing being that he did them all so well.
All American Boy was the name of the album and with everyone from Joe Walsh to Suzi Quatro and Bobby Caldwell to Edgar Winter contributing, this was an all star affair and yet it's the songs that Derringer wrote that really take top billing. "Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo" is still a rock radio staple to this day, while "Teenage Love Affair" has been paid respect through countless cover versions over the years. With the easy groove of "It's Raining" and mature country tinged pop of "The Airport Giveth (The Airport Taketh Away)" offering a completely different mood, there's no surprise that while sounding loosely of its time, All American Boy has aged remarkably well. Something that the Patti Smith co-write, "Hold" and two segueing instrumentals "Joy Ride" and "Time Warp" (not the Rocky Horror "Time Warp") ensure.
Two years later and Spring Fever was in the air, Derringer's second album again featuring Edgar Winter heavily as it continued the focused diversity of its predecessor. "Gimme More" opens with a rock and roll boogie shuffle that's simply irresistible - Winter's piano right at the heart of things - while "Tomorrow" could almost have fitted onto a Cheap Trick album had those dream police softened their stance. With "Don't Ever Say Goodbye" pulling at the heartstrings, and "Still Alive And Well" pulsating through the blasts of Winter's sax and Derringer's pinpoint guitar solo, the A-side of this album positively burst with life. However featuring a loosely reggae version of "Hang On Sloopy" and one of the darkest versions of Rufus Thomas's "Walkin' The Dog", the flip side was hardly lagging behind; Dan Hartman also showing up to provide some backing vocals.
Considering how confident and assured those first two solo albums were, the real surprise came when the solo man formed the band Derringer, and between 1976 and 1978 released three studio albums and one (arguably two) live disc(s). All of which can also be found on the HNE/Cherry Red box-set, The Complete Blue Sky Albums 1976-1978. However, by '79 Derringer - via "hidden" studio work for Kiss - was back in solo mode. Guitars And Women is a potent mix in anyone's book and yet even with Todd Rundgren contributing (and co-producing) and many of his Utopia bandmates also on show, the third solo album from Derringer is possibly the least hard hitting. Instead it feels like there's more of an eye on mainstream success, hooky choruses and slick backing vocals making "Something Warm", the album's title track and "Desires Of The Heart", good time rockers that make a strong, if hardly world changing impact. Still, the performances from Kenny Aaronson, Myron Grombacher, Rundgren and Derringer are sharp and precise, although in some ways that's maybe the issue. Still, "Need A Little Girl (Just Like You)" adds a little more guitar grit, just as "Man In The Middle" builds a groove that's hard to ignore.
The final album included in this set originally landed in 1980, Face To Face finding Derringer teaming up with bassist Donnie Kisselbach. The pair split the songwriting on the album and while it leans on the poppy-rocky-prog of Guitars And Women, the results are a much less forced set of songs. "Runaway" pulls in numerous directions, reminding of everyone from ELO to Supertramp via Cheap Trick, while "Big City Loneliness" is almost a Paul McCartney like slowie. With "Burn The Midnight Oil" a big bold rocker and "Let The Music Play" almost veering into 10CC territory, the real surprise comes as live versions of "Jump Jump Jump" (from All American Boy) and the Neil Young classic "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" focus on a bluesy guitar side that is the polar opposite of the studio cuts - especially when the studio take of the good time rock and roll of "I Want A Lover" falls in between the pair. Somehow the disparity it creates actually heightens the experience, highlighting the class on show as it does so.
Brought together in a stunning clam-shell box and with excellent liner notes from Malcolm Dome (which Derringer contributes to) a total of six bonus tracks appear across three of the four discs. Admittedly these take the form of five 'mono' versions of songs featured elsewhere in the boxset and a single edit of "Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo", but if you're a completist, you won't be complaining.
Having worked with as diverse a cast as Patti Smith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Bonnie Tyler, the Winter Brothers and many, many more over the years, the compositional and guitar skills of Rick Derringer have never been in doubt. Here however one of the often overlooked areas of his career has a welcome spotlight turned upon it, Joy Ride: Solo Albums 1973-1980 living up to its name in more ways than one.
DISC ONE ALL AMERICAN BOY: 1973
1. ROCK AND ROLL, HOOCHIE KOO
2. JOY RIDE (INSTRUMENTAL)
3. TEENAGE QUEEN
4. CHEAP TEQUILA
7. THE AIRPORT GIVETH (THE AIRPORT TAKETH AWAY)
8. TEENAGE LOVE AFFAIR
9. IT'S RAINING
10. TIME WARP
11. SLIDE ON OVER SLINKY
12. JUMP, JUMP, JUMP
13. ROCK AND ROLL HOOCHIE KOO (SINGLE EDIT)
14. ROCK AND ROLL HOOCHIE KOO (MONO)
15. TEENAGE LOVE AFFAIR (MONO)
DISC TWO SPRING FEVER: 1975
1. GIMME MORE
3. DON'T EVER SAY GOODBYE
4. STILL ALIVE AND WELL
6. HANG ON SLOOPY
7. ROLL WITH ME
8. WALKIN' THE DOG
9. HE NEEDS SOME ANSWERS
10. SKYSCRAPER BLUES
11. HANG ON SLOOPY (MONO)
12. DON'T EVER SAY GOODBYE (MONO)
DISC THREE GUITARS AND WOMEN: 1979
1. SOMETHING WARM
2. GUITARS AND WOMEN
4. MAN IN THE MIDDLE
5. IT MUST BE LOVE
6. DESIRES OF THE HEART
8. HOPELESS ROMANTIC
9. NEED A LITTLE GIRL (JUST LIKE YOU)
10. DON'T EVER SAY GOODBYE
DISC FOUR FACE TO FACE: 1980
2. YOU'LL GET YOURS
3. BIG CITY LONELINESS
4. BURN THE MIDNIGHT OIL
5. LET THE MUSIC PLAY
6. JUMP, JUMP, JUMP
7. I WANT A LOVER
8. MY, MY, HEY HEY (OUT OF THE BLUE)
9. LET THE MUSIC PLAY (MONO)
Added: October 1st 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Joy Ride at Cherry Red
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