Friday, October 25, 2019

Six Degrees Of Bowie: Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue Featuring Mick Ronson!

Those of us who feel fortunate to have experienced the shit-hot musical year 1979 first-hand consider it a year of numerous musical explosions, with the most notable being the power pop movement, which momentarily overshadowed the post-punk and new wave movements.

Power pop's chart reign lasted only long enough to cause a signing frenzy that saw any band with a skinny tie signed to a long-term major label record deal. When the Knack's third single stiffed and even members of the band were wearing "Knuke The Knack" t-shirts in public, these same labels quickly realized they were stuck with a bunch of power pop bands that "nobody wanted".

A great number of retrospective publications and record labels have covered the scene in microscopic detail, chronicling the wealth of power pop albums and bands that came and went during that time with little fanfare.

But what about the stuff that, for whatever reason, never saw the light of day?

Like a Connecticut band by the name of Roger C. Reale and Rue Morgue, who were joined by none other than Mick Ronson (yes, THAT Mick Ronson) for their second album, Reptiles In Motion. and then their label just decided not to put it out.

The tapes languished on a shelf for 40 years, during which time "power pop" enjoyed a handful of healthy resurgences and still no mention of this album's existence.

Even as Mick Ronson's name came to be spoken in reverent tones, especially after his untimely passing, an album that he'd not only played on, but demanded to play on remained buried even deeper, it would seem.

What heinous circumstances could possibly lead to such an album being shelved for four decades?

While the loooooong overdue arrival of Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue's second album Reptiles In Motion is short on answers, luckily, it is long on caffeinated riffage and battle-ram hooks delivered with Elvis Costello & The Attractions-level intensity.

Comprising the last half of the newly released digital comp The Collection, the tracks that form Reptiles In Motion bristle with an urgency and sophistication that feels like an opportunity lost - until now, that is.

Those who read the words "power pop" and immediately think of an album full of same-sounding paeans to lost love, think again. What makes Reptiles such a must-hear is the way the band is able to don many hats; from CBGB punk ("Pros And Cons") to edgy blues stomp ("Debutante Ball") to Bowie-esque glam ("Make It be Over"), without any of them watering down the band's identity.

That was never got to hear this album until now isn't just a great loss, it's a crime.