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Royal Court Of China - 1987 Royal Court Of China

ARTIST: Royal Court Of China
ALBUM: Royal Court Of China
SERIAL: SP-5174 (LP), CD 5174 (CD)
YEAR: 1987


LINEUP: Joe Blanton - vocals, guitar * Oscar Rice - guitars * Robert Logue - bass, mandolin * Chris Mekow - drums, percussion, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 It's All Changed * 02 The Last Day * 03 Do You Feel The Same * 04 Tye * 05 Trapped In Waikiki * 06 Forget It * 07 Hope * 08 Tell Me Lies * 09 My Babylon * 10 Townsend, TN * 11 Man In Black

Formed in 'Music City USA'; Nashville, Tennessee, Royal Court Of China had its roots in punk rock. Now before you start to squirm in your chair, they had changed direction and got their act together before signing to A&M. The label had big hopes for the band initially and I remember extensive promotion for the album and it's a good thing the group was up for working hard as they were definitely road tested. After a quick three date support slot with The Kinks hitting Minneapolis, Cleveland and Detroit, Royal Court Of China were involved in one of 1987's more unusual cross country tours of that year, Calling itself the 'Fourplay Tour' and patterning itself off the rock n' roll package tours of the late 50's and early 60's, the band hit the clubs with Northern Pikes, Will & The Kill and Hurrah (For the record-Billboard magazine cited it as one of the most creative tour line-ups of the year). This was followed by even more gigs with REO Speedwagon and The Hooters and it seemed Royal Court Of China was well on their way to bigger things, but musically did they actually have something to offer?

The Songs
Royal Court Of China at the peak of the pop metal era did give rock listeners something different from the norm, I will give them that. Their music was blues and pop based although not something that struck me as all that interesting upon initial listen. In the years since I have played the record from time to time and it has grown on me just a little but not enough to give a solid recommendation. Songs like 'It's All Changed', 'Forget It' and the 'Man In Black' are good enough, but lack hooks, that all important element to good pop song writing. I hear influences ranging from The Byrds and REM to John Cougar Mellencamp, but the Royal Court Of China sound thankfully avoided the cliche over produced studio techniques so common in the 1980's, always a plus in my book.

In Summary
Unfortunately after a line-up change, Royal Court Of China would succumb to the party rock, 'big hair' sound for their second and final album 'Geared & Primed'. Too bad really, but I am sure they were under a bit of pressure from the old boys at the label. If they had progressed through their original sound with better material, they might have created a classic, instead Royal Court Of China fell into the late 80's also-ran' category and into the dust bin of American rock history.

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