Doc Holliday

Doc Holliday Rides Again

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When their eponymous debut failed to score a significant radio hit and a series of diverse touring commitments (backing everyone from Loverboy to Black Sabbath!) finally dried up, Southern rockers Doc Holliday had nothing better to do than get back into the studio and start cobbling together their sophomore LP, Rides Again. But for some reason, the wonderfully combustible partnership they'd established with British producer Tom Allom (he of many a Judas Priest album) seemed to fizzle this second time out, to the point that A&M Records initially rejected the LP before staff A&R man David Anderle was able to clean up the mess and still get it into stores before Christmas. Not that rushing things would do the band much good, because what hardly worked the first time really failed to set the world alight on the second go round. To put it succinctly, the same versatility that let Doc Holliday's first collection of songs to rock as hard as Molly Hatchet one moment and as mildly as "Jackie Blue" the next, now left them sounding confused, derivative, and ultimately lacking in commitment to pursuing either trail. So while the muscular "Hot Rod" tried damn hard to emulate Blackfoot's fearsome bite, the built-for-radio "Good Boy Gone Bad" barely broke a sweat on .38 Special; while "Southern Man" nicked its pretty, jazzy coda from the Allman Brothers, the soulful extended jam on "Lonesome Guitar" clearly exhumed the last remnants of "Freebird"'s immortal soul -- each was good in its own way, but also too close for comfort. Another grouping of country-flavored tracks like "Don't Go Talkin'," Delbert McClinton's "Let me Be Your Lover," and "Doin' It Again" may have been baked with simple country flavors -- savory and comfortable -- but were not exactly thrilling stuff (no comment on the dastardly MOR of "Don't Stop Loving Me" -- a readymade yacht rock shipwreck if ever there was one). And in the sadly prophetic "Last Ride" (one final record, weirdly marked by progressive rock tendencies, and the band would be history), Doc Holliday delivered perhaps their heaviest, hardest-hitting, dang near irresistible stab at Southern metal -- roaring Harley engines and all that! Sadly, none of it could overcome their record company's doubts nor forestall Southern rock's universal fall from commercial grace, which forced all contenders to abandon ship or reinvent themselves as arena rockers. Doc Holliday not only refused to fall in line, they didn't know how to, so their "ride" was about to get bumpier. [Rock Candy Records' 2005 reissue of Doc Holliday Rides Again featured a pair of bonus tracks, these being a serviceable cover of Procol Harum's "Whiskey Train" and a particularly barnstorming take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Travelin' Band."]

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