Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Raydio - Rock On

This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Rock On, the second studio album from Raydio. The 1979 release spent thirty weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 45; it also went to number 65 in Australia, number 42 in Canada and number 4 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

As the cover shows, the predominant forces in the group were Ray Parker Jr. and Arnell Charmichael. The duo had an assist by a number of additional studio musicians as well.

Side one starts with "What You Waitin' For". It features a strong guitar riff from Parker right out of the gate as he calls out a lovely lady to prove she has the moves on the dance floor.

"Hot Stuff" keeps the party going with another rock/disco fusion.

The first single was "You Can't Change That". It went to number 25 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 17 in Belgium, number 12 in the Netherlands and New Zealand, number 9 in Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 6 in Australia, and number 3 on the US Billboard R&B chart. I very much remember this one playing on the radio around the time I was transitioning from middle school (eighth grade) to my freshman year of high school; I would sing right along to it.

The title track "Rock On" closes the first half; it was also the B-side to the first single. The end of the song turns into a shout-out to the band, and at one point I picked up Parker Jr. saying "...I can't hear you...", something that would show up a few years later on his hit single "Ghostbusters".

Side two begins with "More That One Way to Love a Woman". As the second single, it went to number 103 on the US Billboard pop chart and number 25 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The song starts out like an acoustic ballad but it quickly shifts into a full on composition complete with drums and synths.

"When You're In Need of Love", the album's longest track at over six minutes, is up next.

"Going Thru School and Love" celebrates a relationship between a couple who grew up together as kids.

"Honey I'm a Star", the B-side to the second single, closes the album. This song instantly reminded me of their 1977 hit "Jack and Jill", from the general rhythm to the end-line repeats of the backing vocals on the verses.

The title of Rock On is spot on as Raydio clearly emphasizes the heavier rock elements in their funky grooves. Ray Parker Jr. wrote most of the tracks, playing very much to his guitar strengths. This was my first listen to the album and I thought it was okay with a few highlights. This is one that I would really pick and choose on tracks, if I were to add any beyond the singles to my music library.

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