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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Second Spin: Rubicon, Rubicon

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 7:30 AM

Artist: Rubicon

Album: Rubicon

From: Vintage Vinyl’s 99 cent bin.

Year: 1978

Label: 20th Century Fox Records


What it sounds like: Members of Queen and Pink Floyd circa 1980 take hallucinogens and cover Fleetwood Mac. Power ballads, Led Zep riffs, and, coming straight out of left field, some funk/soul flavor.

Best Track: “Closely.” Opens with a guitar riff that’s almost a direct copy of Led Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love.” After a killer bridge from the drums, a meandering distorted guitar solo builds into some Van Halen-style shredding. The lyrical highlights: “Touch me the way you do, hold me closely…ah” and “The feelin’ takes hold of me/I’m on fire/the desire/ only you can satisfy me.”

This song was circled in blue pen with two X’s next to it on the back cover of the album (see below). The previous owner had good taste. Kind of.

Worst Track: “Vanilla Gorilla” “You’ve heard of albino rhinos,” the lead singer wails to start the song, “But you ain’t never heard of a vanilla gorilla!” This is followed with catchy, palm-muted funk guitars and a herky-jerky slap bass line. Lead singer continues attempting his best Roger Daltrey impression with lines like “Nobody mess with him cause he get the best of ‘em!” and “Vanilla! Such a thrilla! Gorilla.” This was the psychedelic thing I was talking about earlier.

Who you can thank for the amazing cover art: I honestly thought this would be a metal band, even after seeing their mugshots on the back. Art direction by John Georgopoulos,. Illustration by Shusei Nagaoka. Photography by Evan Mower.


Interesting Facts: Via Wikipedia: Formed in San Francisco in ’78 by former Sly and the Family Stone member Jerry Martini. This, their debut self-titled album, featured their one and only hit song “I’m Gonna Take Care of Everything,” which peaked at 28 on the Billboard charts. (Taking notes listening to this song I wrote just one word: “boring.”) Released an unsuccessful second album called American Dreams. Two members, Brad Gillis and Jack Blades, went on to form power ballad masters Night Ranger, singers of the immortal casual sex anthem “Sister Christian.”

The word “rubicon” (originating from a river in Northern Italy crossed by Ceasar in an act of war) has been around in rock. Journey has a song with that title, there was an early ‘90s Brit-rock band that recycled the name, and, most recently, a New Zealand pop-punk band named Rubicon kept the circle of life going.

-- Keegan Hamilton

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