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Articles Home » 1978 Articles » REO Speedwagon - 1978 You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish
REO Speedwagon - 1978 You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon
ALBUM: You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish
SERIAL: JE 35082
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 2000, Legacy, EK 61613 * 2013, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY176


LINEUP: Kevin Cronin - vocals; guitars * Gary Richrath - guitars * Bruce Hall - bass * Neal Doughty - keyboards, organ, piano * Alan Gratzer - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Roll With The Changes * 02 Time For Me To Fly * 03 Runnin' Blind * 04 Blazin' Your Own Trail Again * 05 Sing To Me * 06 Lucky For You * 07 Do You Know Where Woman Is Tonight? * 08 The Unidentified Flying Tuna Trot * 09 Say You Love Me Or Say Goodnight


We all know or should know the story of REO Speedwagon. Formed in Champaign, Illinois they worked hard, playing every student mixer, club, bar and ballroom they could find. Signing to a major deal under the tutelage of Irving Azoff (who's office in Champaign was a revolving door of future 'superstars' including Michael McDonald and Dan Fogelberg- all students at the University of Illinois), REO went through two vocalists without blinking an eye, hired a third only to fire him a couple albums later and re-hire second vocalist Kevin Cronin. Playing support to anyone that would have them, from Badfinger, Black Oak Arkansas and Spirit to Kiss, Poco, Blue Oyster Cult and Ted Nugent, they were on the road more than any other band at the time, but they were not exactly selling records outside the Midwest 'cornbelt' and it was a problem. You see like Head East who also formed in Champaign, REO couldn't get arrested in New York or 'El-Lay' while headlining Basketball arena's in Kansas City, Des Moines and Indianapolis. Everything started to change with this album and it's great music, clever title and ridiculous cover art, just in the nick of time..

The Songs
'Roll With The Changes', the opening cut, almost immediately separates REO Speedwagon from their past history which put them in the same category as JoJo Gunne or Joe Walsh's Barnstorm. Not much to get excited about. Up until this point, REO were best know for 'Ridin' The Storm Out' and that was about it when it came to any serious radio play, but with 'Roll With The Changes' all bets were off. From Cronin's bar room piano tinkling to Richrath's god-like guitar leads, this song was a classic the minute the final mix went down and deserves it's spot in classic rock radio's pantheon. But it gets even better with 'Time For Me To Fly' which attempts to run all over The Eagles and succeeds. A great tune, but 'Blazin' Your Own Trail Again' and 'Do You Know Where Your Woman Is Tonight?' falls into the same canyon of Tequila, Cowboy shirts and Cactus that were all the rage after a night at the 'Hotel California'. Still, this album rocks too and just take a listen to the Richrath's burning guitar solos on 'Lucky For You' and 'Say You Love Me Or Say Goodnight'. This guy was so underrated.

In Summary
Finally, anyone ever see the movie 'FM' and REO Speedwagon's brief appearance in the film at a record signing for this album? Worth looking for on DVD and so is this CD. After all the hard work and disappointments, REO are a classic example of the 70's Midwestern work ethic and deserved every bit of success they received.

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