The Rods

Wild Dogs

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Like many American heavy metal bands of the late '70s and very early '80s, the Rods enjoyed a far warmer welcome overseas than in their native land, which was still suffering from a double whammy of the painful disco hangover and its resulting music business recession. And the Rods were among the "lucky" few who at least had major record deals on their home turf (peers like Twisted Sister and Manowar were signed to foreign indies), which is how the blue-collar metal trio found itself touring its eponymous first album in the U.K. as support to Iron Maiden and other major acts. The exposure certainly helped endear the group to British audiences, and since there was nothing really happening back home, Arista instructed them to go ahead and record their second album, 1982's Wild Dogs, right there in England, hoping that building momentum would eventually translate into sales across the pond. It didn't work in the end, but the Rods did come away with arguably their strongest all-around effort: more immediate, more consistent, and certainly more focused than their entertaining but seriously derivative debut of the previous year. Yes, that immediacy resulted mainly from the band's bonehead-simple and/or immaturely dirty lyrics, as well as straightforward heavy rock songwriting that few would dare call "adventurous," but if the formula worked so well for AC/DC, Motörhead, et al., then why not the Rods? After all, several cuts here boasted infectious choruses as good if not better than even these heavy-hitters usually turned out -- namely on "Waiting for Tomorrow," the anthemic "End of the Line," and the downright spectacular "Burned by Love," all of which showed that frontman David Feinstein's vocals were just as accomplished as his guitar playing. On another tip entirely, harder, faster, heavier bruisers like "No Sweet Talk," "The Night Lives to Rock," and the title cut seemed tailor-made for the metal-loving European fans. And the Rods were on such a roll of confidence that it was hard to resist their rugged charms, even when they borrowed from Montrose's "Space Station No. 5" for the excellent album-opening "Too Hot to Stop," or found a way to mix Gary Moore and Molly Hatchet on the Southern rock-sprinkled "Rockin' 'n' Rollin' Again." But for all its strengths, Wild Dogs performed only slightly better than its predecessor in U.K. stores, and once again fell flat in the U.S.A., signaling the inevitable release of the Rods by Arista just a short time later. [Wild Dogs was reissued on CD in 1998 by High Vaultage Records, which added five bonus live cuts.]

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