Funny how all good things in my life are somehow linked to Def Leppard; seems like discovering them back in the day was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me. Becoming a fan of Def Leppard led to many different roads. Guess how I got to know some of my favorite rock acts, like Helix, Billy Squier or Tesla? Same way I discovered and became a fan of Roadhouse, Shadow King, Last in Line and of course Riverdogs – they are all somehow related with my beloved members of Def Leppard.
When I got to know and completely fell for Vivian Cambell’s guitar playing with Def Leppard it was only a matter of time before I traced back his career to Riverdogs and that brilliant debut album of theirs. The rest is …well history.
Ultimately, it all led to this moment right here, the moment I’ve been waiting for so long! That’s right – Riverdogs, featuring original members Rob Lamothe (vocals, guitars), Nick Brophy (bass, vocals) and Vivian Campbell (lead guitar), together with drummer Marc Danzeisen are back with a brand new album, titled “California” and I can barely hold my excitement. Many of you are quite familiar with Vivian and his work with Dio and Def Leppard but in case the other three guys are currently not on your musical radar, now is the time to dig a little deeper and add them to your book of great rock artists.
I knew that this was going to be a rock solid year for Frontiers Records but this release right here completely changed the face of the game. I had a feeling that the album will be quite good but you know what – “California” exceeded every expectation I had in terms of sound, lyrics and influence. It was only natural to dedicate a publication on the new album and share a few of my observations and the reasons why this album might as well just top my playlist for 2017 releases. Let’s dive in…
Coming from Los Angeles, Riverdogs formed back in 1989 – an interesting, quite dynamic time for rock music if you ask me. Still, the band managed to stand out with an exceptional 1990 debut album, conquering fans and critics with an original ‘70s blues rock style, entirely different from the glam metal sound and image that was popular at that time. Songs like “America”, “I Believe” and “Toy Soldier” are just a few of the reasons why their debut achieved recognition and found its place in the hearts of many fans (including mine, of course).
Unfortunately, as I already mentioned, the times were quite turbulent and in this period of transition, many bands couldn’t really secure a stable position on the music scene. Riverdogs re-assembled with new members and released two more albums in the ‘90s before they called it quits. The original line-up got back together in the early 2000s, which eventually led to a new album in 2011, titled “World Gone Mad”.
Now, six years later, “California” is a fact and honestly, nothing else really matters. Whether you are a die-hard fan and lived through those glory old days of rock or you’re just seeing the name Riverdogs for the very first time, “California” most certainly will grab your attention and bring you that much needed summer boost. Melodic rock fans, fans of quality music, fans of the old-school ways of making good music – this is the album for you!
Now, let’s talk more about the songs…
“California” is as soothing as night winds on a warm July evening. You just simply can’t get enough of this blissful feeling the album brings to you. Song after song, emotion after emotion – it’s all there. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not; “California” is a stunning set of sing-alongs, rock anthems, bluesy soul-touching tracks, all brilliantly decorated with thoughtful lyrics and memorable melodies.
Where do I begin? I don’t know, the songs are all so good! After I played the entire album for the very first time, “The Heart is a Mindless Bird” stood out to me the most. I’m a softie and this is the perfect song for me. The lyrics, along with the deep, affecting vocals of the criminally underrated vocalist Rob Lamothe conquered me right from the start. Next one of my list is “I Don’t Know Anything” which has a similar vibe and I guess that’s the reason why those two songs are my top ones. Rob singing “I don’t know anything…That doesn’t stop me now…”, followed by those mellow riffs is one of the best moments on “California”. The opening track, “American Dream” is your well-known pounding rocker, aimed at grabbing you by the throat from the very beginning. The breezy second track, “The Revolution Starts Tonight”, should’ve been the opener, at least in my humble opinion. We go full blues mode with the third track, “Something Inside” which brings you back to the good years of Bad Company. “You’re too Rock and Roll” is my new favorite Friday night song. It just begs you to crank it up while having a couple of beers with your favorite people.
Viv is brilliant – we don’t really have to comment on that, just listen to the entire album. To me, though, the biggest strength of the album lies within the gentle but powerful vocals of Rob Lamothe. He truly shines on this album and not only with his powerful singing but also with his songwriting skills.
It’s quite obvious that I’m a devoted fan and I might be biased but at the end of the day, this is how I feel. What I truly pray for is that other people will recognize their talent and ability to write the kind of rock music we truly need nowadays, so that Riverdogs will keep on releasing new albums in the future and make every fan, old or new, feel as proud as I do right now.
“I Don’t Know Anything”
“Welcome to the New Disaster”
Riverdogs “Welcome To The New Disaster” (Live Acoustic Version)
Album art retrieved from http://www.frontiers.it/album/5390
Band photo retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZKFAm6S3Do
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7 thoughts on “[Album Review] RIVERDOGS Won My Heart with “CALIFORNIA””
I just cannot believe Rob Lamothe is not a superstar! Great review! I feel the same way!
Great review, as always. Never heard of them before, now, thanks to you, I had to buy the album 🙂
Glad I convinced you. Enjoy it!
this is such a great album , and Rob Lamothe is a Canadian!!! 🙂
love this record, 2017 is turning out to be the year of rock!
Cool read 🙂
And I agree, one of the most appealing things about their debut was the fact they chose to steer clear of opening that record with a big on heavy song that was so typical of the time, and instead start with the softer more brooding of Whisper.
So considering they made an effort to return to the debut here, I agree it woulda made better sense opening California with The Revolution Starts Tonight 🙂
Otherwise California gets two thumbs up, love it!