REO Speedwagon - Building The Bridge

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 1 in year-1996

There's not really a great deal I can say about this album from the Speedwagon team, as history would show, 'Building The Bridge' was not a money-spinner for the band, in fact, the album didn't even chart.

REO Speedwagon - Building The Bridge
ARTIST: REO Speedwagon
ALBUM: Building The Bridge
LABEL: Castle Communications, Essential
SERIAL: 119-2, ESS CD 454
YEAR: 1996
CD REISSUE: 2003, Universal Music

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA Flag
LINEUP: Kevin Cronin - lead vocals, acoustic guitar * Dave Amato - lead guitar, backing vocals * Neal Doughty - hammond organ * Bruce Hall - bass, lead and backing vocals * Bryan Hitt - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Can't Stop Rockin' * 02 I Still Love You * 03 Building The Bridge * 04 When I Get Home * 05 Then I Met You * 06 Look The Other Way * 07 After Tonight * 08 Hey Wait A Minute * 09 One True Man * 10 She's Gonna Love Me * 11 Ballad Of The Illinois Opry

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

There's not really a great deal I can say about this album from the Speedwagon team. As history would show, 'Building The Bridge' was not a money-spinner for the band, in fact, the album didn't even chart. Not surprising really, as the album was passed between pillar and post, and let's face it, 1996 wasn't a great year for melodic rock.

REO had returned to being a 5-piece once more, after the departure of keyboardist Jesse Harms way back in 1991. Gigs were frequent, particularly the summer Fairs but no album was forthcoming during the five year absence from the studio. As a result, Epic Records said farewell to the band after such a long and distinguished history with them.

Going it alone, REO opted initially for the Rhythm Safari label, then ultimately the UK based Castle Music/Essentials label. I don't think I've ever seen any of the Rhythm Safari CD's out there on the Net, but I'm sure they exist.

The Songs

So what of the album? Well, it's pretty stripped back, when compared to the lush production job of 1990's 'The Earth, A Small Man, A Dog And His Chicken'. Only one outside co-writer this time (Stephen Stills on 'I Still Love You'), the others written mostly by Kevin Cronin, two from bassist Bruce Hall, plus a couple of co-writes with Dave Amato. Personally, I didn't find the material that strong, especially when compared to the two albums either side of this ('The Earth...' and 2007's 'Find Your Way Home').

There are a handful of useful songs, including the boisterous lead-off 'Can't Stop Rockin'. It contains the energy heard on their late 70's albums but without the superior production. 'I Still Love You' is the first change-up moment, sounding like an off-cut from The Outlaws, especially those southern rock flavoured twin guitars.

The title track is a harmless gentle acoustic/electric ramble, while 'When I Get Home' tries to lift the intensity to the same level as the opening track. First ballad 'Then I Met You' reaches into formulaic territory, I like it but I'm guessing it would be a hard ask for many others. REO crank it up for 'Look The Other Way' and though it's high on energy, it does fade in and out.

'After Tonight' is the second ballad, an acoustic guitar throughout, and unlike Robin Hood, it doesn't hit the mark with any accuracy. Ruining the album even more is the godawful 'Hey Wait A Minute'. Unless you were a fan of Miami/Cuban street music or the fusspot world of the New York jazz scene, then this song is another wide of the mark.

'One True Man' starts out wishy washy but actually develops some balls as it progresses, ending up sounding reasonably rocky. 'She's Gonna Love Me' is another with high energy levels, bristling with chugging guitars and a tougher attitude. The finale 'Ballad Of The Illinois Opry' will probably make sense to all the local Illinois folk, a celebration and recollection of musical history from that region.

In Summary

Though the album saw a reissue in 2003 by Universal, 'Building The Bridge' would remain REO's most low-key album among their back-catalog. Happily to say though, that their next album 'Find Your Way Home' was a much better affair, and received a decent review when I wrote it up back in 2007. Hopefully there's a new album in them yet, which will find its way to your home during the second decade of the 21st century.


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