Sunday, October 24, 2021

"I'm Not Your Man" by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Song#:  3653
Date:  09/24/1988
Debut:  95
Peak:  74
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock, Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  This Philly band led by guitarist/songwriter Conwell originally formed as a trio in the early 80s. Around '84, they were becoming popular regulars on the club circuit and attracting attention. Their local success prompted the band to expand to five members and record an indie album titled Walkin' on the Water that was released in '86. It ended up selling quite well in the region, so much so that Columbia Records took notice and came calling. The band signed on with the label and were then hooked up with producer Rick Chertoff (Cyndi Lauper, The Hooters) to record a new album. Chertoff brought along some of his usual cohorts to help out including Jules Shear, Robert Hazard, and Hooters Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman. Together, they all worked on the album titled Rumble and once completed this track got issued out as the first single. It did very well over at Rock where the song ended up at #1. On the strength of that result, the song crossed over to the Pop chart, but it didn't really take off and remained near the bottom for a few weeks. The success of the track on rock radio helped move a few albums and it would eventually peak at #103.

ReduxReview:  Heartland, Southern, and blues rock definitely had an audience in the late 80s, but unless you were Mellecamp or Springsteen, breaking through in a bigger mainstream way was tough. Glam metal was the rock choice of the day and it seemed few folks in the MTV generation were paying much attention to good ol' rock 'n' roll bands. Conwell and his outfit were basically bar rockers and they were successful due to their live performances and Conwell's catchy tunes. It worked well locally, but the question was, would it play to a bigger audience. The answer was yes and no. This initial single certainly found a home on rock radio making it to #1. However, its barroom blues-rock sound just wasn't going to cut it on pop radio. The tune did well in introducing them a rock audience, but it just wasn't the right tune to capture the attention of folks who were taking Guns N' Roses to #1.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The connection between Conwell and The Hooters wasn't necessarily brand new. Both were Philly bands that most likely played the same clubs and ran into each other, but the closer connection came via a Hooters member. Bassist Rob Miller was a member of The Hooters in the early 80s. He remained with them for about a year during which time they recorded and released their indie debut album Amore. Unfortunately, just before the band signed with Columbia and broke big with their second LP, Miller was in a motorcycle accident which sidelined him. He would end up getting replaced in The Hooters. After his recovery, a spot opened up in Conwell's band and Miller got the job in time to record the band's indie debut album. Strangely, both bands had nearly the same thing happen; they were Philly bands who each recorded a successful indie album on the Antenna label that then got them signed to Columbia Records where their second albums, both produced by Rick Chertoff, met with success (The Hooters had much more success, but still...).


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