Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Name Game V.2: Red Rider VS. Red Riders

Photo by bobster 855 from here.

Has every possible band name based on the English language been used already? Probably not yet, but the tipping point may be coming soon. This series of posts is being created to ensure you can tell the which from the what.

Red Rider was a Canadian band that released four albums from 80-84. The band was distinguished by its thoughtful lyrics that often included a literate outlook, such as Scruffy's personal favourite, Neruda. Inspired by songwriter/vocalist Tom Cochrane's ideas about poet Pablo Neruda and his writings, the band hit its creative peak with Neruda's finely-tuned atsmospherics. Guitarist and pedal steel player Ken Greer was a prime example of a musician who served the song in an era when flashy finger-tapping from Eddie Van Halen was still considered cool. Below you can listen to/watch Neruda's Light in the Tunnel/Human Race, which was a gutsy choice for single and video considering that vocals don't even make an entrance for more than 2 minutes. Any resemblance to the chorus of ubiquitous 1997 hit Tubthumping by Chumbabwumba is probably coincidental, but if Chumba's lyricist happened to be in Canada in 1983 and heard any FM radio, Human Race could not be missed. You can also stream the whole album (as well as the other three Red Rider albums) on Ken Greer's website.

To backtrack for a moment, Lunatic Fringe was actually the band's biggest tune, it still gets airplay not only in Canada but in the States. I heard it on the radio in Vegas recently. Sorry I can't post the original video (embedding has been disabled on YouTube), it was even more dated than Human Race, terribly-synced music and video. If you'd like to see the original go here, or if you'd like to see a really rough live version by Todd Rundgren go here.

Red Riders is a band from Sydney, Australia who have released two albums so far. The newest, Drown in Colour, dropped July 10th, 2009. As opposed to the classic rock/sometime art rock of Red Rider and Neruda, Red Riders are potentially just a tad too clever for radio in North America at the moment. Their songs have hooks that aren't overly obvious, sweetly jangly guitars that temper restrained riffing, and a solid-but-subdued rhythm section (except on tracks like My Love Is Stronger Than Your Love where the bass 'n' drums are the engines in the verses). If The Church were younger, starting out today, and had ten cases of Jolt Cola under their belts, Red Riders' songs might be the result. Or a not-so-over-the-top dramatic Cure, perhaps - oops! Just checked their listed influences on myspace, and those two C-words were both listed. And I thought I was being perceptive. A funny kid's nightmare video for Ordinary to boot.

The video for You've Got a Lot of Nerve is not as amusing - quite dull actually, but I like the song, which you can download here.

So, which will you have - Red Rider or Red Riders? Do you think the name was taken from the holiday classic A Christmas Story?

1 comment:

Gary said...

OK, Finally someone is talking about Red Rider again! Kudos. I will be checking out Red Riders as soon as I am at a PC with speakers! GS