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The first... but not the best.
on September 7, 2004
Before the first wave of English Punk hit in '76, there weren't too many alternatives to the ailing state of popular Rock in mid-70's Britain. The exciting but doomed-by-excess Glam phenomenon of the earlier part of the decade was in it's death throes, and the radio was becoming increasingly more dominated by much more "serious" music like Yes and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer... ie. the dreaded "dinosaur" rock perpetuated by "supergroups". A huge void was created, and it was this void that became the unlikely launching pad for the Rollers' rise to fame and success. After slogging through the early 70's with only one Top 40 single, which came and went in '71, and numerous lineup changes and failed follow-up singles, they finally gelled their lineup in late '73 with the replacement of original vocalist Nobby Clarke by the more rogueish and extroverted Leslie McKeown. A drastic new look with bizarre Tartan highwater flares and cropped-shag haircuts, plus the backing of songwriting team Martin/Coulter, and a new hit single in the form of "Remember", propelled the Rollers to new heights and the heyday of their career.
"Rollin'" is the result of all this activity. The first BCR album came nearly 5 years into their career, and kicked off the glory days of "Rollermania". Released in the summer of '74, this platter offers mainly Martin/Coulter compositions, with only 4 band-penned songs. There was also talk of session musicians being used on some of the recordings. Nevertheless... "Rollin'" and the new re-vamped Rollers offered a fresh, youthful, and well-timed relief to all the pretentious pomp-rock that was dominating the charts in 1974. Not exactly the adrenalin-charged explosion that would occur a couple of years later with bands like the Sex Pistols et al... but a nice appetizer if you will. A few classics arose from this album, in the form of "Shang-A-Lang", "Summerlove Sensation", "Saturday Night", and a remixed version of "Remember", with a Les McKeown vocal overdub.
The bonus tracks here are all b-sides of previous singles, and don't offer much in the way of uniqueness, but the last track ("Hey CB" - b-side to "Saturday Night") is an interesting departure... a fuzz-laden stomper about a cycle rally that sounds nothing like the rest of the material here. Strangely catchy. I only wish that Bell would have included the elusive and unreleased "Na Na Na" in place of the highly disposable "Bye Bye Barbara". This album is worth buying if only for it's unique historical significance.