Our most popular post? Who would have guessed the J. Geils video…

As of this week, the Rockforward Music blog has posted 308 times since we started watching all things roots-rock back in mid-2009.  I’ve written and posted video about Indiana music, and bits from a more national perspective, that are either interesting to me, a bit odd, or maybe just some damn good, goosebump-inducing rock and roll that’s worth spending four minutes of your day on.

There ‘s been weeks when it has been all great rock video posts from YouTube.  There’s been weeks when I have posted my diatribe on the uselessness/irrelevence of MySpace.  Some weeks find me writing every day, some weeks produce one (though high-quality and award-winning) post.

And since we started, there have been two posts that reign as the most popular, day-after-day, stretching for months at a time.  Their daily traffic many times surpasses the roots-rock news updates, the concert previews, the album reviews, the show reviews and even the the behind-the-scenes peeks at the sleazy underbelly of rock music that get passed to you, the reader.

One of these two popular posts (I will write about the other next week) has been a ten-minute, three-song live video featuring the legendary R&B/rock stylings of the J.Geils Band, recorded with one camera, close to the Fenway Park stage as the band opened for Aerosmith in August, 2010. 

Why this video?  My guess? 

I don’t really know.  In the big rock picture, J. Geils is, for right or wrong, not a huge band (and still waiting to get into the R&R Hall of Fame), though they picked up a second generation of fans with the “Centerfold”/”Freeze Frame” punch. It is a pretty clean side-stage shot, though only slightly above-average sound.  A big, unique setup at an old baseball park, so that is intersting.  The bill is shared with Aerosmith.  It is a vintage, interesting, from-the-soul performance.   It is all those things.  But why this more traffic-worthy than of the other 307 entries, many of which took a whole lot more time to write than putting the one video on the blog. 

Truthfully? I have no fuckin’ idea. 

But I like it.

Peter Wolf at Fenway Park (photo: Boston Globe/click photo to read their review)

And the nicely trashy rumor at the show was that J. Geils singer Peter Wolf got into a heated argument with Aerosmith front dude Steven Tyler before the show after Wolf was told he couldn’t take his moves and romps onto the ramp that stretched into the crowd – only Tyler was going to be doing that.

Watch the video: Wolf uses the ramp.

Remember Them? Detroit’s Rockets Return

The Rockets (then)

There once was, and is again,  a rock and roll band from Detroit called The Rockets.  A helluva rock band.  No big hits, but Detroit rock radio embraced them, and they were local heroes from 1972 until they faded away in 1983.

The pedigree that made them noteworthy were two leaders that were driving forces behind the Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.  Johnny (Bee) Badanjek (drums) and Jim McCarty (guitar) both fueled the R&B rock and roll craziness of Ryder’s sound, and, as musicians do, eventually left the band to do their own thing.

They became the Rockets. 

You could have dubbed them “Kings of the Openers”; they opened for the big rock bands of the time  – and not just in Detroit. They traveled with KISS, Seger, ZZ Top, among many.  But they never could get any bigger than that.  Never had a big radio hit beyond the Motor City.   But even the band’s later stuff , like “Rollin’ By The Record Machine” elicited a vintage Bob Seger energy.

With lead vocalist Dave Gilbert, the Rockets reached their biggest success in 1979 with a Top 40 hit doing a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well”.  The hard partying Gilbert  ended up taking a job hanging drywall, and died  in 2001 at age 49.

Badanjek is one of rocks truly great drummers.  And McCarty an engaging, gritty rock guitarist.  They had continued to play music, just not together.  That changed when they formed the Motor City Music Review in 2009, a Motown/rock and roll cover-type band. Then into a band called the Hell Drivers, with new frontman Jim Edwards. Things started to happen. 

Promoters in Detroit and Flint and Toledo started to call.   How about a Rockets show? So they morphed back into The Rockets. And if the story ended here, with the band playing bars in Detroit, it would still be good, right?  Continue reading “Remember Them? Detroit’s Rockets Return”