Sunday, January 5, 2014

REO Speedwagon - Roll With The Changes (1978)

It's only fair. I've hijacked the Herc's Hideaway blog on several occasions, most notably for the Radio Daze series. Today, Herc returns the favor by giving us his take on one of his favorite singles from my favorite decade.

 Roll with the Changes
b/w The Unidentified Flying Tuna Trot

Released: 1978 (Epic)
Written by: Kevin Cronin
Produced by: Kevin Cronin & Gary Richrath with Paul Grupp
Album: You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish

 U. S. Billboard Charts:
 Hot 100 58

The single debuted in May 1978, nearly two months after its parent album was released.  It is the opening track of the album and a rousing kick-off.  Together with the second track and second single "Time For Me To Fly", the two songs are as strong a rock album opening as any other. Among other songs that debuted on the Hot 100 that week were:
  • Donna Summer's "Last Dance"
  • KC and the Sunshine Band's cover of the Four Tops "It's The Same Old Song"
  • Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"
  • Billy Joel's "Only The Good Die Young"
  • Bob Seger's "Still The Same"
Within five weeks of it's eleven week life on the chart, the song peaked at #58.  In the ensuing years, the song seems to have become a classic rock staple.

I was drawn into this song by the piano opening and soaring electric guitar.  The vague but assumed to be positive lyrics ("As soon as you are able/Woman I am willing/To make the break that we/Are on the brink of" and "I heard the thunder clappin'/Felt the desert burnin'/Until you poured on me/Like a sweet sunshower") and weird pronunciation of said lyrics are easy enough to ignore but when that final chorus kicks in at 2:40, in all of its gospel choir glory, that's all she wrote, mister.  It's a mantra for life: "Keep on rollin'/Keep on rollin'/Oooooh/Ahhhhh"  and then 40 seconds later, Neal Doughty and that organ come in with even more righteous churchy goodness and finally, Gary Richrath and his riffalicious guitar rise above it all at the 4:00 mark.  I feel sanctified and cleansed after each and every listen.  I am HERC and I attend the Church Of Rock N Roll several times daily.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or ratings of My Favorite Decade. I will admit, however, that I wish I had thought of the word "riffalicious."

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