Monday, April 7, 2008

RUBBER RODEO - Heartbreak Highway

New wave and country might seem like an unlikely combination, but Boston-based Rubber Rodeo attempted the fusion in the 1980s over the course of two LPs and an EP.

The band is best remembered for its excellent 1984 single Anywhere With You, which was definitely more straightforward pop than country. The song appeared on their debut LP, Scenic Views, which also yielded a minor hit in The Hardest Thing. Prior to that, Rubber Rodeo stirred some attention with an EP that featured a new wave take on the Dolly Parton hit, Jolene.

Scenic Views didn't break the band to the level that was probably hoped, and it's apparent that with their follow up LP from 1986, Heartbreak Highway, Rubber Rodeo was aiming to lasso major pop success. The songs are hookier and more developed, and while Scenic Views included lead vocals split pretty much evenly between core members Trish Milliken and Bob Holmes, Milliken's memorable singing is the emphasis on Heartbreak Highway.

Side 1 features the album's strongest cuts, starting with the storming title track. If You're Ever Alone is a gorgeous pop tune sung by Milliken that was criminally not released as a single. This one could have done really well for them. Holmes does a worthwhile take on Fred Neil's Everybody's Talkin'. The lead single, Souvenir, is an infectious, upbeat duet that should have been a commercial smash. The Civil War is a melodic, Western-influenced instrumental.

The brief side 2 includes highlights in Look Who's Back, another fine pop song with lead vocals by Milliken, and the hopeful Maybe Next Year.

All of Rubber Rodeo's releases remain unreleased on CD. You can check out my vinyl rip of Heartbreak Highway at the link below, and head here for the EP and here for Scenic Views.

Rubber Rodeo - Heartbreak Highway (LP, 1986)

Track listing:
1 - Heartbreak Highway
2 - If You're Ever Alone
3 - Everybody's Talkin'
4 - Souvenir
5 - The Civil War
6 - Deadtown
7 - When Words Collide
8 - Look Who's Back
9 - Maybe Next Year


Uncle E said...

I always thought that "Everybody's Talkin'" was written by Harry Nillson?
Or am I thinking of a different song?

Franko6677 said...

Nillson had success with it, but it was actually written by Fred Neil. Thank God for Google search when I'm writing these things. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the music video to "Jolene"? It's a rockamerica/telegenics video that I cannot find online anymore. It's simply brilliant, probably the creepiest, most maudlin new wave/country croonfest - it sounds way more DIY than the actual single.

Franko6677 said...

No, I have never come across the "Jolene" video, unfortunately. Sounds like fun. Hopefully someone puts it back online.

Club80 said...

Excellent site, franko6677!
Club80 (thep5)

oh...and hello uncle e! (He's a friend of our site too!)

It's Uncle Jim said...

I saw Rubber Rodeo in the early 80s, opening for the Stray Cats. They were the only band I ever saw that actually got booed off of the stage. And they deserved it too!

Franko6677 said...

Interesting about them getting booed off! What was so bad about them?

It's Uncle Jim said...

The audience response was at first polite, but tepid. The band started making snide comments about the lack of enthusiasm, and it made the audience mad. In the end they got enthusiasm alright, just not the kind they wanted!

Anonymous said...

Can you please put Scenic Views here as a zip?
I have the rest. thank you!

Charles C. said...

Thank You Good Sir... I thought I'd have to get the LP and rip it myself... I am still going to try to find a copy, but now my need to search is a bit less hectic.

roaldhan said...

Scenic Views was actually released on CD in West Germany

tokyochase said...

Yes Scenic Views was released on CD in Germany. I actually own the cd. I should rip it and send it to those who would enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Please, the Heartbreak Highway link is down. Can you re-up & repost it. thank you in advance!!!!!