Album: Schizophrenic Circus
. . .
Let us now consider the curious case of Red Rockers, who started in 1979 as one thing, and broke up a scant six years later, something else entirely.
Originally based out of New Orleans, Red Rockers made a bit of a splash in the American punk scene with 1979’s “Guns of Revolution,” which didn’t sound like The Clash at all. By which I meant, totally sounded the Clash. As did many of the other songs on their debut album, Condition Red.
That said, I do recall playing Condition Red enough during the pre-on-air KFSR days, though not enough to go out and buy it, like I did with their 415 Records lablemates, SVT. And so Red Rockers were signed to the San Francisco-based 415 records, and 415 Records had a producer, David Kahne, who eventually split to be a A&R guy for Columbia.
In my early-80’s cosmology, Kahne is somehow both a hero and a villain. He always glossed things up. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. I’m still pissed off about Wire Train. In any event, he produced some of my favorite records of the period — Heartbeats and Triggers and All Over The Place, to name but two. He also produced albums that I couldn’t stand, like Different Light and the follow-up to Condition Red, 1983’s Good As Gold.
Good as Gold had one good song, the single, “China” — which probably ended up breaking me cos I heard it all the time. As far as the rest of it, I was going to say that I remembered that it was — but honestly, I don’t remember one single fucking thing about any of the other songs on that record. And, in this case, I’m going to trust 1983 Jim.
All of this is to say that I had absolutely zero expectations for 1984’s Schizophrenic Circus, especially considering its utterly horrible cover. I mean, it was clear that whatever principles they’d had back when they were trying to be The Clash were totally gone. Still, I got a promo copy from KFSR, and put it on, and was surprised that they’d decided to turn into a psychedelic pop band.
Or at least on the best songs they were — like the rollicking opener, “Just Like You” and the closer, “Burning Bridges,” which stole its drumbeat from Ringo Starr and got by on its weird production. And while nobody needed their cover of “Eve of Destruction,” we all needed the record’s best song, “Good Thing I Know Her,” which you didn’t even have to squint all that hard to compare to The Church.
Despite the silliness of lyrics that described the her it was good to know as “a psychedelic playground / a kaleidoscope of colors,” the way the guitars of Shawn Paddock and John Thomas Griffith wrapped around each other was good enough for me. As was the final chorus, that ended the song:
That said, while I still love this song, I’m not sure it aged very well, and when Red Rockers never issued another record after this, it was like I was hoping that they’d reform. In fact, I didn’t even recognize the names of the guys in the band when I started doing research for this piece.
And oh yeah, I saw Red Rockers in concert after this album. Which is a thing I have absolutely zero memory of, as they were opening for U2 at the Cow Palace in SF — OK, fine, Daly City — which just goes to show how memory is a weird thing, because I remember the Waterboys opening for U2 a few months prior (somehow I saw U2 twice on the Unforgettable Fire tour, about which more when I get there), and I remember U2’s performance of “Bad” at the Cow Palace.
But nada about Red Rockers that night. And in fact the only reason I can even tell you I saw them is doing the research for this piece (to get the band members), it said that they broke up while on tour with U2, and I checked an obsessive U2 fan-site to see if I saw them. Which I guess I did, unless we were running late or something. I guess it really doesn’t matter.
Also not mattering: the Red Rockers broke up either during that tour, or just afterwards, never making another record.
“Good Thing I Know Her”
Did you miss a Certain Song? Follow me on Twitter: @barefootjim
The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page