Rubettes

We Can Do It

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Titled, of course, for the hit single "I Can Do It," We Can Do It is the album that indicated there was an awful lot more to the Rubettes than the grinning Showaddywaddy wannabes that manifested themselves via the band's 45s catalog. While never quite escaping the deeply retro '50s feel that flavored their debut album (and, with songs as great as "At the High School Hop Tonight" and "Juke Box Jive," why would they?), still the Rubettes strike out for some remarkable extremes.

"Something's Coming Over Me" could easily have escaped from the Eric Stewart/10cc scrapbook, a genuinely anthemic ballad ridden with haunting, Beatlesque harmonies and one of those heartbroken guitars that dictated the course of '70s rock balladry. Serious balladry, too, drapes "I'll Always Love You," while "It's Just Make Believe" marries more soaring harmonies with a breathy spoken-word lead vocal and winds up occupying a similar space to the Bay City Rollers' "Dedication." The affirmative "Dance to the Rock & Roll" is a dramatic (and, again, 10cc-esque) rocker, but it's toward the end of the album, and absolutely overthrows any preconceived notions you might have brought to the party. "Wo Goddam Blues" is a spiky romp that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Mungo Jerry album -- if Peter Frampton brought along his voice box -- while "Beggarman" is a sadly sobering piano and acoustic ballad with a definite Robert Plant feel to the vocals. So much versatility, of course, was not necessarily to the Rubettes' advantage. The smashes (not to mention the berets) might have drawn the kids in -- We Can Do It only narrowly missed the U.K. Top 40 -- but they repelled anyone who would have appreciated what was really lying in store. And so one of the most vibrant British acts of the era remained locked into the mood of a handful of timeless hit singles, when they really were worth so much more.