Red Rockers

Good as Gold/Schizophrenic Circus

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The Red Rockers were not convincing as punks; however, as blatant U2 disciples they were quite special. Good as Gold/Schizophrenic Circus combines the Red Rockers' last two albums. Released in 1995 when '80s new wave nostalgia started to blossom, it works as a generous career retrospective, skipping the band's youthful missteps and leaving only the good stuff. The propulsive "China," with its faux-English accents, shimmering riffs, and hyper drums, should've been a big Top 40 hit instead of the alternative-radio cult classic it became. Blame it on commercial radio at the time, too tightly programmed to hear one of the decade's catchiest pop songs. For some, the Red Rockers' story probably ends there, defined by a perfectly rendered, jangling jewel that glitters but then fades with the group's hopes of breaking through the mainstream. Although the rest of the Red Rockers' discography barely resembles "China," they recorded more than a handful of toe-tapping, politically driven tracks such as "Home Is Where the Heart Is" and "Blood From a Stone." Like 415 Records comrades Wire Train and Translator, the Red Rockers sounded British, especially on "China," "Just Like You," and "Good Thing I Know Her." However, the Byrds were an obvious influence, too, as chiming, ringing guitars give a few of these songs a '60s feel, although the slick production, especially on the Schizophrenic Circus material, is totally '80s. Some of the tracks blend into one another, but the albums are surprisingly filler-free. The Red Rockers were not as innovative as their idols U2 and the Clash; nevertheless, they were capable of writing music that was just as memorable.

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