Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Riverrock Self-Titled Private 1975

Riverrock Self-Titled Private 1975 CAT# SRK-585

I spotted this at a Salvation Army and the awful cover photo just screamed private press.  An old-timey, sepia-toned, portrait shot that looks like it was done at Worlds of Fun (for those of you not familiar to KC, Worlds of Fun is an amusement park owned by the Hunt family, it's kind of hokey, but fun).  Picked it up and discovered these bad-asses are from Overland Park, KS, so I took it home.

When I first put it on the turntable, I expected country, I just didn't expect to be all that enjoyable.  I figured guys from the suburb of Overland Park would be highly influenced by the Nashville country-pop sound, y'know, loads of sentimental, hard-luck, ballads.  A bunch of shitty studio effects and a bunch of filler.  Instead, it's a roots driven and weighted in traditional country.

To be sure, there are the hokey and hillbilly moments, the instrumental "Buffalo Chips" comes to mind for using a kazoo.  Overall though, traditional instruments and no pretension.  It's a very homespun LP and while it contains some hoe-down moments better suited for live shows, solid harmonies and songwriting.  In addition, there's a cover of the Beatles "With a Little Help From My Friends," and an even better cover of Dylan's, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," simlar to the version that showed up on the Byrd's Sweetheart LP.

It's a surprisingly good album.  These were guys weren't rebelling against the Nashville sound, but they weren't following it rules, either (didn't have to in Kansas).  It's not an "outlaw" or "rebel" album, but it's certainly rooted in traditional country, coming close to the 'Newgrass' scene that was growing throughout the 70's.  Later, the band would make an 8 hour drive to Nashville to record an album that disregards everything enjoyable about this album, but I'll get to that at another time.



  1. Thanks for the review. Better late than never. This album went mostly unnoticed in 1975 and I'm unaware of any published reviews until now. The single (45 RPM) that we released in 1977 (unattached to any album project) also went mostly unnoticed. Our second album (recorded live in 1977) did get noticed and reviewed in The Kansas City Star. That was the year the Jim Halsey Company signed the band and things started to pop. Actually, I'm rebuilding the Riverrock website right now and I remembered that I added this article last year to the mountains of memorabilia that went with Riverrock's submission to the Missouri Music Hall of Fame. Maybe it helped. We were nominated for 2015 against only two other acts on the final ballot. So, the new DISCOGRAPHY page will include this little jewel at the end. FYI, Riverrock is still playing live and three of the original members (including yours truly) are in the lineup. Regards, Dan Smith

    1. Thanks for reading Daniel. I dig this album and wish I could say better about the later LP. I've tracked down Come On In/Pine Mountain Railway 45, just haven't got around to it, yet. I'll likely be more motivated to do so thanks to your comments.

      Congrats on the Missouri Music Hall of Fame...where are you guys playing around now-a-days?

  2. Sorry I missed this. I'm having to rebuild the Riverrock website and back tracked to this post. Riverrock gigs are posted on the website using the Schedule page (soon to be Event page) riverrockkc.com FYI, check out our live LP from 1977: Still 'live and Pickin' and our Shuddup & Party! CD from 2011