Tuesday, April 7, 2020

"Black Dog" by Newcity Rockers

Song#:  3096
Date:  04/18/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  80
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Hard Rock, Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  Radio DJ Bob Rivers got his start with several stations in Connecticut, but it was his move to station WAAF in Worcester, Massachusetts (Boston area) that turned him into a morning radio personality. His show Bob & Zip (with Peter Zipfel) was a success and it was there that Rivers started to record parody and novelty tunes that would be used on his show and other radio programs across the country via Rivers' American Comedy Network. One of his first efforts was "Breaking Up Is Hard on You," a send-up of the Bell Telephone breakup set to Neil Sedaka's hit "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do." It was so popular that it got released as a single in 1984 and made it to #70 on the Pop chart. Many other parodies would follow, but then it seemed Rivers wanted to do some legit music and with three other Boston-area musicians formed the Newcity Rockers. The band wrote the majority of the songs for their self-titled debut album, but it would also include three cover tunes including this first single. While many folks thought that it was a sin to remake a Led Zeppelin track, others liked the band's take on the song and their support got the single on the Pop chart for a few weeks.

ReduxReview:  The band took Zep's gritty, stop/start bluesy jam and turned it into something a bit more steady and ready for 80s rock radio. In addition to the huge crashing drums and other 80s-ish effects, the band added in horns and even a piano with vocalist Ken Kozdra channeling Robert Plant fairly well. They nearly turn the Led Zeppelin tune into a Mutt Lange-produced Def Leppard track. I kinda want to hate it because goosing up a Zep song for the 80s was a terrible thing to do, but oddly I don't dislike it. It's a bit bombastic and overdone, yet not so much so that it kills the tune. The sexy, swaggering feel of the original isn't there so that got lost in translation, but overall I think they did a fairly good job. It was better than what I expected.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Led Zeppelin in 1971. It was the first single taken from the band's classic Led Zeppelin IV album, which included what is perhaps their most famous song "Stairway to Heaven." Their original version of "Black Dog" would end up becoming their second biggest hit on the Pop chart reaching #15. It was surpassed only by the #4 placement of their 1969 hit "Whole Lotta Love." The title "Black Dog" is interesting because it doesn't appear in the song's lyrics and has nothing to do with them either. Apparently, the band was having a bit of a hard time naming the song, which didn't really have a standout phrase or hook that would be appropriate for a title. While the band was recording the album at a studio on a country estate, there was a black Labrador retriever hanging around the grounds that they would pay attention to and feed. So instead of forcing a title from the lyrics, the band just decided to name it after their stray friend, "Black Dog."


No comments:

Post a Comment