Defending the Indefensible 3: REO Speedwagon

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it's interesting to know that ILM has so many Doors fans (the subject of the last defending the indefensible).

defending reo speedwagon might be a little tougher, i reckon. but maybe not, since there's so much ILM love for journey's "don't stop believin'" and styx's "come sail away." plus someone must be buying those state fair concert tickets, you know!

Tad (llamasfur), Sunday, 15 June 2003 05:18 (seventeen years ago) link

seriously -- "keep on lovin' you" is actually pretty good, in a faux-Boston sorta way. nice echo on the well-textured vocals, plus a pretty good guitar solo.

and that's it for me!

Tad (llamasfur), Sunday, 15 June 2003 05:20 (seventeen years ago) link

You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish and The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken are really good album titles.

scott seward, Sunday, 15 June 2003 05:28 (seventeen years ago) link

Their episode of Behind the Music was better than most.

Paul Cox (paul cox), Sunday, 15 June 2003 05:35 (seventeen years ago) link

Cracking jokes about washed-up has-beens wouldn't be the same if the human family didn't have REO Speedwagon to laugh at. For that alone, their existence is justified.

Cub, Sunday, 15 June 2003 05:37 (seventeen years ago) link

I played in a band in high school and we convinced this girl who I had a crush on (and she had a crush on me, but I didn't know that until later) to sing some songs with us, and one of the songs she sang was "take it on the run" by REO, because one of her friends (who one of my friends was in love with, wasn't adolescence great?) loved that song and she sang it as a favor to me doing a favor to my friend so he could hit on the other girl (totally ineffectually) and another friend taped the gig but he lost the tape and then he joined the army.

REO really isn't all that defensible.

JesseFox (JesseFox), Sunday, 15 June 2003 05:56 (seventeen years ago) link

REO really isn't all that defensible.

Are you kidding? The fact you can tell that story is defense enough.

Paul Cox (paul cox), Sunday, 15 June 2003 05:59 (seventeen years ago) link

For those of us of a certain age, "Ridin' the Storm Out" was one of the first songs we learned to play on electric guitar.

While living in Boulder in the late 1970s, I used to get mistaken for Gary Richrath and get great tables at restaurants, so I love "Tuna Fish" for escalating their popularity accordingly.

Chris Clark (Chris Clark), Sunday, 15 June 2003 13:40 (seventeen years ago) link

My lab partner in chemistry in high school once confessed to me that she'd developed an entire plan to kill REO Speedwagon's singer's wife and then win his love and marry him, although, she noted, of course she would never do such a thing.

Douglas (Douglas), Sunday, 15 June 2003 16:27 (seventeen years ago) link

'Gary Richrath' is a fab name.

Joe (Joe), Sunday, 15 June 2003 20:48 (seventeen years ago) link

Chuck Eddy's all gaga about these guys, and its one of the few cases where I totally can't get why. I don't mention the ugliness of the members as a criticism (though the video for "Roll With The Changes" has CRIMINALLY more close-ups then it needs), but merely an added reason why their success is so INEXPLICABLE to me.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Sunday, 15 June 2003 20:55 (seventeen years ago) link

All I know is Chuck is right about R.E.O. T.W.O. - that album is pretty great, and I certainly wouldn't have picked it up w/o his reco. And "Ridin' the Storm Out" is indeed a fine classic rock radio staple.

On the other hand, "You're
a candle in the window / On a cold, dark winter's night"...

Mr. Diamond (diamond), Sunday, 15 June 2003 21:06 (seventeen years ago) link

"keep on lovin you" is class. what was that about someone loving "come sail away" by styx? now that i cant understand

Bob Shaw (Bob Shaw), Sunday, 15 June 2003 21:42 (seventeen years ago) link

ask trife, he loves that "come sail away" shit!

Tad (llamasfur), Sunday, 15 June 2003 23:10 (seventeen years ago) link

my name is reo

reo fordecor, Sunday, 15 June 2003 23:38 (seventeen years ago) link

I live on the second floor.

(Why did I post that?)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 16 June 2003 00:13 (seventeen years ago) link

Hmmm....I guess I'm the only person who's noticed the songs on *Hi Infidelity* that sound like the Troggs (or the Music Machine, maybe).

But either way, if you think you like hard rock, and don't understand why "Golden Country" is great, you're probably lying.

(By the way, my wrong-headedly negative review of REO's live show in college -- "Midwestern, Metallic, and Cruddy" -- got me death threats over the phone back in Missouri the early '80s, thus inspiring me to make rock criticism my career. So I owe those guys a lot.)

chuck, Monday, 16 June 2003 14:58 (seventeen years ago) link

four years pass...

After hearing and starting to look forward to "Keep On Loving You" a couple times a wk on the shuttle bus, I've downloaded Take It On the Run: The Best of.... It's remarkably solid, with really well-constructed tunes, and surprisingly (for the band/genre) eclectic. The doo-wop tribute of "In the Letter" really surprised me. I'm actually a bit surprised Miccio doesn't like them at all since "Time for Me to Fly" reminds me of REM in parts. Aside from KOLY, my favourites are probably the obvious ones: "Take It On the Run" and "Ridin' the Storm Out." "One Lonely Night" and "Lightning" are pretty good too. I'm kind of fascinated by the lyrics to KOLY:

You shouldve seen by the look in my eyes, baby
There was somethin missin
You shouldve known by the tone of my voice, maybe
But you didnt listen
You played dead
But you never bled
Instead you lay still in the grass
All coiled up and hissin

And though I know all about those men
Still I dont remember
Cause it was us baby, way before then
And were still together
And I meant, every word I said
When I said that I love you I meant
That I love you forever

And Im gonna keep on lovin you
Cause its the only thing I wanna do
I dont wanna sleep
I just wanna keep on lovin you


And I meant every word I said
When I said that I love you I meant
That I love you forever


The chorus is pretty straightforward: It seems to be about a Tantric marathon session. But WTF is he on about in the first verse? There are at least 3 metaphors going on there. I mean, why would someone either bleed or coil and hiss like a snake if she were playing dead? And the basic message of the song - that he's so submissive and desperate that no snake-like behaviour, infidelity, or even his own recognition that something's missin' could stand in the way of his devotion - was totally not what I would have expected from my original impression of the song. It's a pretty fascinating stance that seems to come up more than once in their lyrics. "One Lonely Night" also seems to advocate total supplication and abandonment of one's principles when faced with the option of going a night without sex.

Sundar, Sunday, 25 November 2007 06:28 (twelve years ago) link

"Time for Me to Fly" reminds me of REM in parts

Actually I guess it's just the build-up to the coda and the guitar sound in the break before that. I guess I can see why Anthony wouldn't like them.

The ugliness only makes me like them more. I really think these bands totally were about the music.

Sundar, Sunday, 25 November 2007 06:58 (twelve years ago) link

I think you've misread the song entirely -- it's about a stale marriage complicated by infidelities but the singer's sticking it out because when good midwestern guys say "till death do us part", "for better or for worse", and all that they mean what they say. The soaring melody that results from all this might ignite the first sex the couple has had in years, in fact.

theboyqueen, Sunday, 25 November 2007 07:15 (twelve years ago) link

I know a guy who worked at an optician's in suburban Chicago with these vaguely cute but trashy rock chicks, back in the mid-80s. Kevin Cronin's dad was an optometrist, and sometimes he'd pay a visit (knew the owners, I guess) and these girls would get so *nervous* at the prospect of being in the same giant room as Kevin Cronin's *DAD* that they would run into the bathroom when they were told he was coming and puke their guts out from anxiety . . . and by the time they came out to face Kevin Cronin's *DAD*, he'd already left, and so then they'd promise each other not to get too psyched out about it next time. Then next time the same thing happened.

It's my favorite story tangentially about bad rock 'n' roll.

deedeedeextrovert, Sunday, 25 November 2007 08:52 (twelve years ago) link

REO Two is AOK chuck berry derived barband rock. otherwise these guys are useless.

m coleman, Sunday, 25 November 2007 19:44 (twelve years ago) link

gershy, Sunday, 25 November 2007 19:58 (twelve years ago) link

Which Chuck Berry song sounds like "Golden Country" again? (Best hard rock protest song ever, as far as I'm concerned -- or at least the one I like to hear most often -- give or take "2+2+?" by Bob Seger.):

Hi Infidelity and You Can Tune a Piano and the first album are all really good, too.

More here, probably:

Taking Sides: Journey vs Toto vs REO Stationwagon

xhuxk, Sunday, 25 November 2007 20:02 (twelve years ago) link

Best hard rock protest song ever

And yep, that includes "War Pigs"!

xhuxk, Sunday, 25 November 2007 20:12 (twelve years ago) link

yeah but you like Loverboy too.

m coleman, Sunday, 25 November 2007 20:20 (twelve years ago) link

"Prison Women" from first album also a highlite.

Gorge, Sunday, 25 November 2007 20:25 (twelve years ago) link

"Keep On Lovin' You" and "Time For Me To Fly" are stone classics. "Time For Me To Fly" all the more so for transcending one of the worst lyrics of the AOR era.

rogermexico., Sunday, 25 November 2007 21:16 (twelve years ago) link

Was this really the third-ever "Defend the Indefensible"?

Myonga Vön Bontee, Sunday, 25 November 2007 22:54 (twelve years ago) link

I think "Can't Fight This Feeling" is a pretty decent top 40 jam. In high school amongst my snotty pals though REO was pretty much the ultimate example of "band whose name is shorthand for 'music beloved of people who have no taste'"

J0hn D., Sunday, 25 November 2007 23:32 (twelve years ago) link

Thanks to my pops, a big fan, this group was known in my house only as...

The Speedwagon

Which still invariably cracks me up.

Billy Pilgrim, Sunday, 25 November 2007 23:40 (twelve years ago) link

Reo Speedwagon were OK. Not a fan in any way, but there are thousands of acts way more indefensible.

Geir Hongro, Monday, 26 November 2007 00:16 (twelve years ago) link

i have a big soft spot for hi infidelity because it was all over radio at exactly the time i started listening to radio. i also like kevin cronin's overbearing dylanisms. "in the grEEE-AAAss, all kiled up n HEEE-i-seen".

and in high school, the lousy band i was in convinced this girl i was sort of in love with to sing a few songs with us and one of the songs was "take it on the run," so that was kind of sweet. (although she actually hated the song. it was just something we could play in her range.)

tipsy mothra, Monday, 26 November 2007 03:35 (twelve years ago) link

three months pass...

i'm sorry but i'm completely into REO at this point in time. i hope that isn't upsetting to anybody. i find this quite amazing.

Surmounter, Thursday, 20 March 2008 20:41 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

Is this perhaps the most misguided thing EVAR?

Special preview graf:

“I was struck right off the bat by the dazzling good looks of my avatar,” Mr. Cronin said, laughing.

james cameron gargameled my boner for life (Pancakes Hackman), Wednesday, 2 December 2009 20:26 (ten years ago) link

Mr Veg downloaded 'Take It On The Run' for Rockband, and since 'Keep on Loving You' was the only REO song I could immediately call to mind from the title, TIOTR didn't ring a bell. So he's playing it one afternoon as I'm sitting on the couch reading, and I find myself singing along. Crazy thing is I don't remember EVER hearing was like some weird Manchurian Candidate trigger buried in my subconscious. So, they're pretty classic. I think REO are pretty genius at doing those huge building cresendoes...sure they are kinda cheesy but damn they're fun.

VegemiteGrrrl, Wednesday, 2 December 2009 22:37 (ten years ago) link

five years pass...

Kevin Cronin looks like a fucking anthropomorphic poodle

Hammer Smashed Bagels, Wednesday, 11 February 2015 00:47 (five years ago) link

in defense, from the letters section of the October 1973 issue of Creem:

Thank you for being one of the few, if not the only, "Rock" magazines in existence that believes in, or even believe that there are any bands that make less than $10,000 a night. Believe it or not, Rolling Stone, there are some that are talented.

Gary Richrath
R.E.O. Speedwagon

sleeve, Wednesday, 11 February 2015 01:43 (five years ago) link

he meant EVERY word he said

Hammer Smashed Bagels, Wednesday, 11 February 2015 02:00 (five years ago) link

seven months pass...

He was REO's lead guitarist and one of the main songwriters from the band's start all the way through the end of the 80s. He was only 65.

Johnny Fever, Monday, 14 September 2015 14:27 (five years ago) link

eleven months pass...

saw them open for Def Leppard the other day and lord is Kevin Cronin long-winded and corny live.

Neanderthal, Thursday, 18 August 2016 03:17 (four years ago) link

oh man, I bet.

still got a soft spot in my heart for these guys

ro✧✧✧@il✧✧✧.c✧✧ (sleeve), Thursday, 18 August 2016 03:20 (four years ago) link

four years pass...

I never paid REO Speedwagon much mind, but one of their videos (Time for Me to Fly) came up on a Vevo channel I was watching the other day and I found myself really enjoying it and decided to check out some other stuff.

I find this all very defensible. Am I just getting old?

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 15:37 (two weeks ago) link

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