REO Speedwagon

CMC International Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


REO Speedwagon is a band whose glory days are long behind them. Gone are the days of multi-platinum discs and heavy airplay for their latest works. In fact, I'll bet there are some people out there who are surprised that Kevin Cronin and company are still around.

But just because a band isn't topping the charts anymore doesn't mean they're forgettable. Plus, a live disc culled from REO Speedwagon's St. Louis concert last June, proves that maybe, just maybe, the music actually has some more substance without the hype of superstardom hovering over them like a sword of Damocles. This is the band, take it or leave it. My advice? Take it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sure, there's a little bit of unintended humor, with Cronin working the crowd a la 1976 and sounding like Adam Sandler's Bobby Boucher character from The Waterboy. Sure, this disc might disappoint those who are expecting to be blown out of their sneakers the way they were with Live: You Get What You Play For all those years ago. And, sure, this disc is bound to leave off at least one personal favorite of yours - the curse of a band who've been around as long as REO Speedwagon.

But there is something about Plus that wins over even the most skeptical listener - namely, the music. And, in the end, isn't that what the whole 30-year ride has been about for REO Speedwagon? Admittedly, I miss hearing Gary Richrath's guitar work, and there are times in some songs where hearing two rhythm guitar lines would have helped to push things over the edge, as on "Keep Pushin'". And, admittedly, Cronin's vocals have changed over the years, almost creating a more mellow edge to them. It does give the listener a chance to hear such nuggets as "Time For Me To Fly," "Take It On The Run" and "Keep On Loving You" in new lights - and chances are you'll like what you hear.

There's plenty of music on Plus that will please the casual fan ("Roll With The Changes," "Ridin' The Storm Out"), and tunes that will make the long-time fan thrilled ("Music Man," "157 Riverside Avenue"), And, in the end, Plus challenges the listener to put aside any expectations they had of the disc and take it on its own merit. In retrospect, that's rather easy to do. Any band who can take a song which is at least 20 years old and make it sound like it just came out of the box has to be doing something right.

REO Speedwagon might not be a household name anymore, unless you're a devotee of classic rock radio. But Plus proves that this band has plenty of life left in them - a fact held up by the enthusiastic screams of the crowd. It just might be time to give these guys another chance.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.