REO Speedwagon - The Earth, A Small Man, His Dog And A Chicken

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited June 5 in year-1990

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon
ALBUM: The Earth, A Small Man, His Dog And A Chicken
SERIAL: EK 45246
YEAR: 1990

LINEUP: Kevin Cronin - lead vocals, guitar * Dave Amato - lead guitar * Bruce Hall - bass * Neal Doughty - hammond organ * Jesse Harms - keyboards * Bryan Hitt - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Love Is A Rock * 02 The Heart Survives * 03 Live It Up * 04 All Heaven Broke Loose * 05 Love In The Future * 06 Half Way * 07 Love To Hate * 08 You Won't See Me * 09 Can't Lie To My Heart * 10 L.I.A.R. * 11 Go For Broke



It's a pretty weird album title huh? Not the easiest to recite. A new decade, a new lineup, possibly a new sound? Not quite with the latter, but I did enjoy this CD in comparison to the last few 80's albums from this lot, so that says something.

REO's last album was 'Life As We Know It' back in 1987, and with three intervening years, you could've expected Kevin Cronin and former guitarist Gary Richrath to each release a solo album, similar to the two blokes from April Wine who released their albums in 1988; Myles Goodwyn and Brian Greenway.

As it turns out, Cronin never bothered with a solo effort while Richrath got around to his in 1992. It's not as if REO weren't busy during the 1988-1989 period. They were still performing shows, and bolted on former Santana drummer Graham Lear to their backbone, as well as guitarist Miles Joseph who joined temporarily after the departure of Richrath in early 1989.

However, during that year, the new version of the band only performed one show, so things had ground to a near halt by year's end. Joining the band in 1990 were former Ted Nugent guitarist Dave Amato, former Wang Chung, Life by Night and Stan Bush drummer Bryan Hitt, plus former Sammy Hagar keyboardist Jesse Harms.

The new lengthily titled album was released at the end of August 1990, produced by Cronin and Tom Lord Alge. Sound wise, this album's aural quality is excellent, and despite its lack of success on the charts, there are a bunch of great commercial songs on offer.

The Songs

Apart from a handful of song-writing efforts from the REO guys themselves, there are 4 songs which have outside writer contributions, including Mark Spiro, Diane Warren, Tom Kelly and Adrian Gurvitz. Classy names indeed.

The first single lifted from the album is the opener 'Love Is A Rock'. It's mostly acoustic and organic, but does beef up on the choruses. Certainly a good decision to make this the lead-off track.

The gentle wash flowing over 'The Heart Survives' is only fleeting before turning into a trademark REO tune. 'Live It Up' is a sassy kick-ass sort of tune, the motif throughout reminds me of Bad English's 'You Got The Best Of What I've Got'.

'All Heaven Broke Loose' (the Adrian Gurvitz co-write) is another track to impress, the initial intro reminding me of that 1989 Workforce album, but the song moves into pure AOR territory with a predominant electric delivery.

'Love Into The Future' is a collaboration between Cronin and I-Ten's Tom Kelly, and is a melodic mid-tempo affair that strikes all the right crystal bowl harmonics for me. Segueing into 'Half Way', this is the best song on the CD for mine, a delicious 4 minutes of AOR that still works its magic years later. The Mark Spiro effect is probably responsible for the impact of that song.

'Love To Hate' is a harder-edged effort though no less melodic. 'You Won't See Me' is a happy upbeat rocker with an emphasis on Neal Doughty's hammond organ parts. 'Can't Lie To My Heart' has the indelible hand of Diane Warren, and is quite the gorgeous ballad/rocker, with the pre-requisite killer chorus. The last two tracks have been written by the band themselves.

The interesting titled 'L.I.A.R' (Love Is All Right) is a rockier and tougher event, anthemic to a point and full of beefy chants. 'Go For Broke' typifies the delivery method of this song to a tee. Kinda like a raucous version of Foreigner or Bad Company jamming it up at the House Of Blues.

In Summary

So there we have it. 'The Earth, .' made it to #129 on the Billboard album charts, with two songs 'Love Is A Rock' and 'Live It Up' making a dent in BillBoard's Mainstream Rock charts.

It was the band's last album to actually make it into the charts. Of the band, only Jesse Harms has since departed, while the remaining members have kept the legacy of the band alive up to the current day, so good on them for that.

It was a fun and fulfilling week catching up with this album again. It's been a regular on my phone for the last wee while, and deserving of a mention among the REO back catalog. 1996's 'Building The Bridge' is also in the firing line. Watch out for that one soon.


Half Way

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    mjf85mafmjf85maf That room at the back corner of my house where the volume won't bother the wife
    I was always curious about this record. I'd given up on them a few years before. Guess I'll need to hunt this one down to check it out.
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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia
    Mike, this is goodie indeed. Have bolted on a video too.
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