10 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

David Gilbert’s voice sounded like a hard day’s night spent in a blue-collar Midwestern bar, and this band—the missing Motor City link between The Stooges and The Romantics—had a sweet Mitch Ryder pedigree in both drummer/songwriter Johnny “Bee” Badanjek and wholly unsung guitarist Jimmy McCarty. Produced by Allman Brothers knob-tuner Johnny Sandlin, 1980’s No Ballads (The Rockets' third album) arrived a year after their biggest hit, a muscular cover of Peter Green’s “Oh, Well” that went Top 40. While “Sad Songs” (defying the album title) should’ve cracked the charts, “Desire,” a ribald nod to carnal longing with an inescapably killer guitar hook, should have solidified the band’s status as arena headliners. That didn’t happen. Still, this album is packed with solid American fare: “Time After Time” mashes Bob Seger pop with Bruce Springsteenish travelogue; “I Want You to Love Me” nearly gloriously derails on barrelhouse piano and dirty slide guitar; “Don’t Hold On” is the kind of bluesy breakup song that Dickey Betts might’ve penned; and a cover of Lou Reed's “Sally Can’t Dance” is the real jukebox hero here.

EDITORS’ NOTES

David Gilbert’s voice sounded like a hard day’s night spent in a blue-collar Midwestern bar, and this band—the missing Motor City link between The Stooges and The Romantics—had a sweet Mitch Ryder pedigree in both drummer/songwriter Johnny “Bee” Badanjek and wholly unsung guitarist Jimmy McCarty. Produced by Allman Brothers knob-tuner Johnny Sandlin, 1980’s No Ballads (The Rockets' third album) arrived a year after their biggest hit, a muscular cover of Peter Green’s “Oh, Well” that went Top 40. While “Sad Songs” (defying the album title) should’ve cracked the charts, “Desire,” a ribald nod to carnal longing with an inescapably killer guitar hook, should have solidified the band’s status as arena headliners. That didn’t happen. Still, this album is packed with solid American fare: “Time After Time” mashes Bob Seger pop with Bruce Springsteenish travelogue; “I Want You to Love Me” nearly gloriously derails on barrelhouse piano and dirty slide guitar; “Don’t Hold On” is the kind of bluesy breakup song that Dickey Betts might’ve penned; and a cover of Lou Reed's “Sally Can’t Dance” is the real jukebox hero here.

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