THE RODS – Wild Dogs (Arista Records Spart 1196)
DAVID ‘ROCK’ Feinstein is a man with a mission. Apart from a long-standing desire to break all known records in the field of female conquest, he aims to become the “meanest, loudest, fastest man ever to pick up a guitar”. Skilfully supported by Carl Canedy (drums) and Garry Bordonaro (bass), his performance on ‘The Rods’ album, released in Britain just a few months ago, clearly marked him as a contender and here he stakes a claim that will leave weightier (and probably taller) musical legends cowering in the shadow of their stacks.
Critics of HM often cite the guitar solo as a torturous reflection of the excess and indulgence that underpins the entire musical form. But on ‘Wild Dogs the flying Feinstein digits provide a succession of powerful, pertinent forays that help restore some honour to this much-abused r’n‘r device. From this angle alone the album’s a success, but The Rods are a team and to gloss over the role of the rhythm section would be a shoddy misdemeanour, It may be Rock’s vital, virtuoso playing that grabs the attention first, but Bordonaro‘s urgent bass keeps up the momentum and Canedy‘s fills blast through the mix like mortar fire, the two combining to form a suitably sturdy backdrop for each of the 10 numbers here.
With the exception of the current single, a cover of the Supremes Vanilla Fudge classic ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’, writing credits are divided between Feinstein and Canedy. In general, it’s Rock who adopts the more direct approach – a few chords simply arranged for maximum cerebral impact overlaid with lyrics showing a pronounced preoccupation with matters basic and biological.
On the opener ‘Too Hot To Stop’ he indulges in some graphic grunting ‘n’ groaning before declaring himself to be “as hot as a bitch” – a condition that grows steadily more severe as the album progresses. Indeed, by the second last track, ‘No Sweet Talk, Honey’, you can almost smell the smoke rising from his V-fronts.
In between the two, the Feinstein pen supplies ‘Rockin’‘N’ Rollin Again’ a shopping list of vices, including ‘drinkin’, ‘snortin’ and (naturally) whimmin’, unfurled over the usual strafing guitar and ‘Violation’ which, as the title implies, is a real gutter-grind. Rock makes a meal of the opening line “I didn’t know she was only seven-teen”, before leading the way through a cautionary tale of teenage dalliance complete with pounding bass, depth-charge drums and intermittent bellowing. Gross but great.
While Feinstein‘s writing seems fashioned primarily by instinct and the reproductive urge, with Canedy you occasionally sense activity above the waistline. Both the restless ‘Waiting For Tomorrow and the epic slow-shaker ‘End Of The Line’ come across as thoughtful and dynamic, though when the need arises he can also dish up the fast’n‘furious fodder that is The Rods’ staple diet. ‘Burned By Love’, for instance, catchy enough to be the next single, and in particular the album’s two prime cuts ‘The Night Lives to Rock’. an anthem of ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ stature and the title track itself, a salivating, salacious shock rocker that sees the band champing and straining at the leash like drug-grazed Dobermans. ROCK’ ROCK! ROCK’ comes the cry, less the call of man than beast, providing the cue for Feinstein, positively foaming by this stage, to launch into a solo that howls, growls and sends stereophonic shrapnel flying between the speakers. Reach for the headphones at your peril.
And that just leaves ‘You Keep Me Hangin On’, the real surprise of the album. An over-the-top parody is what I expected but, while the song is certainly beefed up (Rock as ever has his say), it’s approached with enough respect to ensure that its original strength remains intact. The production, courtesy of Feinstein, Canedy and Martin Pearson, even allows for some authentic ‘ooh. ooh’-ing and generally provides the band with a new vocal depth.
On reflection there’s no one track here quite as outstanding as ‘Nothing Going On In The City’ and, as usual, innovation is in short supply. But what the Rods do they do very well indeed and ‘Wild Dogs’ catches them at their torrid, tumescent best.
FEATURE SEPTEMBER 1982
WHILE MOST bands travel around the States by plane or ma luxury tour bus. The Rods weren’t so fortunate during a brief stint on the road with Rainbow. Due to an extremely tight budget, the group was forced to motor about in a cramped mini-bus a long way from being comfortable. With outside temperatures in the 80’, the absence of any air- conditioning left everyone gasping for breath, it was little wonder that the vehicle soon became known as ‘The Greenhouse’. You had to sympathise with the powerhouse trio — they deserve better than this.
My recent encounter with the band started in Norfolk. Virginia, the opening date on the second leg of Rainbow’s current US trek. Feinstein and his comrades arrived at the venue around five In the afternoon looking totally shattered – hardly surprising really since they’d just had to endure a lengthy spell in ‘The Greenhouse’. Nevertheless, spirits remained high and they were soon checking out the local female supply!
Some three hours later it was showtime and The Rods emerged on stage to deliver a fine hard rocking set. It was good to hear tunes from the current ‘Wild Dogs’ LP played with even more aggression than on vinyl and it wasn’t long before the band had won the crowd over. It’s strange, but although The Rods have scored well In the UK (they’ve yet to hit home in their native America), basically, they appear to be suffering from lack of exposure but wherever they play they seem to go down well.
After the show in Norfolk the lads resumed their quest for ‘wimmin’ and within five or 10 minutes there were some sordid scenes taking place in their dressing room. For the sake of decency I won’t go into details! Eventually though, the party had to be cut short as the band returned to ‘The Greenhouse’ for a two-hour drive to the next town. Rock Feinstein and
drummer Carl Canedy occupied the back seats and were soon reminiscing about the good times they’d had in England earlier this year. Clearly the UK has been a happy hunting ground for the wild dogs.
Rock: “It was just fantastic. We had great food, the people were great, especially the chicks — everything was great.”
Carl: “Yeah, especially the fans. I mean they’re really hardcore. They know whet they like and really believe in the music. You don’t get that in the States.”
How did you enjoy recording in England?
Rock: “It was fine, the only problem was that we didn’t really have much time. We’d like to have spent longer in the studios. Working with Martin (Pearson) was good though. He’s a good engineer and he made things real easy for Carl and myself when it came to the production.”
Carl: “The thing that particularly Impressed me about Martin was that he was prepared to take our ideas and work on them rather than try to impose his own. It takes a good person to be able to do that because a lot of people would let their ego get in the way of things. I’d really like to record with him again. After he did the ‘Metal Rendezvous’ album with Krokus they wouldn’t work with him again — I don’t think that would be the case with us.”
Rock: ‘That was because he didn’t make them sound like AC/DC,”
Carl: “Swissy-DC – that’s our nickname for them. I mean any band that goes out of their way to sound just like another. . . gimme a break. Either quit or find your own thing.”
Have people ever compared you to other bands?
Rock: “Not really — they haven’t found a band bad enough yet?”
How do you feel about the ‘Wild Dogs’ album in comparison to your first one?
Rock: “It’s different. Every album a band does has to be slightly different but at the same time still retain the Identity of the group and I think we managed to do that. I also feel that this one sounds like an English album.”
Carl: “We set out to make the heaviest album we could and we did it. When you put that record on it’s just scarey, it’s so heavy. But having said that, it would have been nice to have spent more time in the studios. The trouble is that we were on such a limited budget.”
Rock: ‘We had to do it all in two weeks, which was ridiculous!”
Carl: “The thing is, we have some songs that would lend themselves to some very heavy production but you can’t do in a fortnight what actually takes two or three months.”
How stifling is the budget you’re on?
Rock: “Very stifling!”
Carl: “Arlsta in England have been really good to us. but the people over here. . .. well, I wouldn’t say anything bad about the record company we’re on in America.” (There’s more than a hint of sarcasm In his tone)
Rock: “Nor would I — aside from the fact that they stink!”
Carl: ‘Well, look at the situation. Here we are doing an interview, you’re able to sip champagne in a nice air- conditioned bus (he’s kidding by the way!). You saw the chicks we could have taken with us but we decided not to bring them. You can see the kind of money that’s being put into the band. Here we are in a rented van with no air conditioning — it’s just fantastic for us. I know you must be enjoying it as much as we are.”
Rock: “Actually we’ve got millions being pumped into the band – we just don’t want anybody to think we’re rich?”
Carl: ‘We’re a pack of wild dogs. Even with no-one behind us besides our manager we’ll still go out and play because that’s the way we are.”Joking aside, it must be pretty frustrating for you at this stage?
Rock: “Totally. What makes it frustrating is that we’re ready to do anything. This is what we live for and what we do. All we care about Is playing and writing. We’ve had so many offers but without any support from the record company there’s no way we can do them, it’s depressing, but we aren’t gonna quit. We’ll keep going. The thought of being at home kills us— we need to be out there.”
Too true! it’s certainly a tough period for The Rods and one can only hope they pull through.
Following the gig in Norfolk. we pressed on to Washington DC where, once again, Feinstein and co performed a rousing set. The Rods are currently playing a few dates with Judas Priest but other than those gigs little else seems to be lined up for them.
KERRANG ISSUE 40 – APRIL 1983
THE RODS ‘In The Raw’ (Shrapnel 1005 Import)
SOMEWHERE out in the dark back- woods of American music, there’s a beastie on the prowl. Ravenous for the taste of blood, it roams untamed and
unseen, ready to pounce on quivering, unsuspecting wimps and blimps,
foolish enough to stray from the main path, devouring ‘em … IN THE RAW.
This, then, is it, the album that should right the impotent wrong perpetrated by the limp sibling ‘Wild Dogs’, because whilst the latter had about as much snap as a damp packet of Rice Krispies, ‘In The Raw’ literally simmers with over-baked goodies.
Oh, sure, there are occasions when the lack of studio sophistication is just a
Mite off putting. For instance ‘Evil Woman’ with its smouldering epic build up
Could have done with some deft muItitrack touches But, well you can’t have everything, right? And if losing out on the finer points of recording techniques is the price that needed to be paid for the return of a rougher hew to the Rods, then here’s one metal maverick who ain’t complaining.
For the most part ‘In the Raw’, has a startling line in bulging rifferama ‘Hurricane’, ‘Can’t Get Enough of the Fun’, ‘Streetfighter’ and ‘Hold on for your Life’, are typical over amped Rods savagery, in that all four numbers balance pounding rhythms with astonishingly classy melodies. Especially worthy of Kerrangsters’ attention is the last named, featuring a devastating tremolo topped solo from Rock Feinstein and a muscular hook that I defy anyone not to find irresistible.
Elsewhere the boy show that last year’s tour with Judas Priest has had a
decidedly beneficial effect, with both ‘Go For Broke’ and ‘Hot Love’ displaying a sensible dynamic proportion so redolent of the Iatter, nearly (but not quite) spilling over into mimicry.
However, here’s one band who can inculcate influences from all quarters without losing their own identity. So these cuts work quite brilliantly, opening up a new dimension for the Rods to explore on later albums, doubtless.
Yep, I can already envisage a mass of crania cranking action the moment ‘In the Raw’ bawls forth—and there’s not a Supremes cover in sight!
MUSIC FOR NATIONS MAGAZINE 1984
The Rods are made up of three individuals, David Rock Feinstein, Carl Canedy and Garry Bordonaro.
Rock Feinstein, guitarist and main vocalist in the band, began his career in Cortland, New York with his cousin Ronnie James Dio. The band was called Ronnie Dio and the Prophets, which later became known as ELF. At this time Elf was recording for Epic Records, and touring extensively with groups such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.
A while after the split up of Elf, Rock made contact with Carl Canedy, now drummer and back-up vocalist for the RODS. Carl, who had been studying under Carmine Appice, and playing the club scene at the time, was eager to join forces with Rock in forming a Rock and Roll Powerhouse. The two began looking for the right bass player for the band, and were eventually introduced to Gary Bordonaro, now bass guitarist and also lead vocalist for the RODS. Garry had been studying music at Ithaca College, and also playing the local club scene at the time. After a few rehearsals it was obvious. Rock, Carl and Garry knew they had the right combination, and so began their assault on the Rock and Roll ears of the world.