The Rods (High Vaultage) 1981
1. "Power Lover"
The Rods debut album ranks with with Riot's first three albums and even those early Y&T classics as some of the most underrated heavy metal albums of all time. Far before their time, few were rocking this hard in the disco era of 1981. OF course there were scads of fans looking for heavy music as the growing New Wave of Heavy Metal was growing, especially in Europe. I wore the grooves off of this record back in the early 80's. The Rods play raunchy, dirty, American heavy metal. The band had melody, but they also had that attitude that only an American metal band could deliver at the time. Chock full of headbanging anthems from my youth, words cannot really describe the nostalgia trip that songs like "Power Lover", "Crank It Up", "Music Man" and the raucous "Nothing Going on in the City" bring. The music is delivered with a fast and furious, almost punk delivery from a young and energetic band. You can almost feel the hungry energy of the band. David "Rock" Feinstein tears up the fretboards like few others were doing at this time. Of course Feinstein had formerly made a name for himself as the guitarist for Elf, with his cousin Ronnie James Dio. (Feinstein played on Elf's debut album). Songs like the bluesy, melancholy "Woman" even bring in some of those 1970's influences. Likewise "Get Ready to Rock 'n' Roll" has some guitar work that reminds me of Rainbow's "Long Live Rock n Roll".
Originally recorded in 1980 and released as an independent album titled "Rock Hard", the Rods debut was later picked-up and released in 1981 by Arista Records as the "The Rods". The album was remastered and reissued in 1997 by High Vaultage records with two bonus tracks. The 16 page booklet contains extensive footnotes, artist biographies, reviews, etc. "Gettin' Higher" was originally released on the "Rock Hard" album, but not on the Arista release. "Wings of Fire" was taken from the "You Keep Me Hangin'" single.
The Rods - Wild Dogs (High Vaultage) 1982
1. "Too Hot to Stop"
"Wild Dogs" is one of those underrated heavy metal classics from the early 80's. Many considered The Rods to be the American version of Motorhead, but in all honestly, even Motorhead wasn't tearing up the fretboard like this in '82. David "Rock" Feinstein simply shreds like few others were doing in his time. For the most part, "Wild Dogs" is a solid, outstanding heavy metal platter although the cover of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" is a bit of a dog compared to total shredders like "Too Hot to Stop" and the scorching title track. "Volation" has a slight AC/DC vibe to it. I do think that "Wild Dogs" has a slightly more commercial edge to it, compared to the band's debut. However, I don't think anyone would ever accuse The Rods of being an overly commercial metal band. "Wild Dogs" is pure, hard 'n' heavy metal that was light years ahead of it's time.
This album was originally released in 1982 on Arista Records and finally reissued in 2004 on CD by High Vaultage Records with 5 excellent live bonus tracks. High Vaultage knows how to put together a re-release. The booklet contains extensive liner notes from the band and also includes reviews from 1982, interviews from this era of the band as well as a few photos. I no longer have my vinyl copy of this album, but I'd be willing to be that this re-release was also remastered.
The Rods - In The Raw (High Vaultage) 1983
The Rods third album came after being dropped by Arista Records and was initially recorded as a demo. Without a label the band settled for Shrapnel Records and released "In the Raw" as it was recorded in it's demo for. "In the Raw" is actually a good name for this CD as the recording has that raw, live feel to it. Some may sneer at the less than perfect recording, but those of us who know and love metal can appreciate the charisma that the production brings to this album. Actually, I think this live feel works to The Rods benefit and gives them a power that may have been lost, had the production been overly polished. Musically, the band continues down similar roads as their last two, punching out chunky, hard rocking, heavy metal. "Witches Brew" ranks among one of the Rods finest cuts. "Another Night On The Town" is another of those songs influence heavily by Ritchie Blackmore. The main riff in this particular tracks reminds me of "Man on a Silver Mountain". While this may seem to be 'stealing' a riff, it is clear that Fienstien was merely playing tribute to the man that inspired him to pick up a guitar.
The 1998 re-release of this CD contains a bunch of bonus material. The short instrumental "In Your Panties" was originally recorded in 1979 for the "Rock Hard" LP. "Stay On Top" is a low quality, rehersal recording and a very uncharacteristically funky song for the Rods. The remainder of the songs are live and taken from various sources. The Zeppelin medley is pretty cool, although it's pretty obvious the source of these live tracks was some crappy cassette as their are points where the sound drops here and there. Of course, this stuff wasn't really meant for hi-fidelity listening. These bonus tracks are really for the die-hards who are looking for a little extra. As such, these tracks are a cool inclusion. On top of the bonus material, the booklet contains a lengthy biography on the band at this time in their career.
Back in 1984, I picked up this record at a record shop brand new. It was actually my first exposure to The Rods and it made me a fan. It was at that point I went back looking for the band's first three albums. On here, The Rods ditch the studio polish to release a live batch of vicious, anthemic, blue-collar heavy metal numbers. In a live setting, the band was loud and raunchy, almost like Ted Nugent meets Motorhead. They were fun live band as they interacted with the audience quite a bit, which is quite apparent throughout this album. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered that many The Rods fans didn't like this album as much as their previous studio releases. Reading the liner notes to this High Vaultage reissue, it seems even the band feels that this live album was a bit of a mistake. Well, perhaps to some this was a low point in The Rods catalog, for me it was a starting point and because of that, I still enjoy this album some three decades later. The High Vaultage reissue includes several bonus tracks, including track five, "Violation". The songs at the end of the disc aren't of the same quality as the other ten tracks, but are still a good listen and nice to have.
The Rods - Let Them Eat Metal (High Vaultage) 1984
1. "Let Them Eat Metal"
I think this is one of those albums you just had to be there for. It seems most people don't seem to even remember The Rods, and if they do they only seem to remember the "Wild Dogs" album. However, when "Let the Eat Metal" was released in '84 on Combat Records, this was one monster of a heavy metal record. For some reason, people have just forgotten about this gem. While the sound was a bit more polished than their first three, it was still solid, straight forward heavy metal in an AC/DC meets Motorhead style. The 1998 High Vaultage reissue includes four bonus tracks, including a cover of "You'd Better Run", which I believe was originally recorded by, or at least made famous by Pat Benatar.
The Rods - Vengeance (Niji Entertainment Group) 2011