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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Lifer - 1980 Lifer
Lifer - 1980 Lifer

ALBUM: Lifer
LABEL: Ribbon Rail Records
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2008, Retrospect Records, RR-367


LINEUP: Rick Alexander - vocals, keyboards * Lance 'Flash' Gordon - guitars, vocals * Fred Hourigan - guitars * Tim Beaumont - bass, vocals * Rob Heacock - drums, percussion, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Old Sailors Dream * 02 Sweet Lady * 03 Eddie Canasta * 04 Take It Away * 05 You'll See Me Through * 06 Father * 07 You Step On Me * 08 Stinkin' Thinkin'

In the great tradition of Rathskeller and Roadmaster, Indiana band Lifer - from Bloomington, makes an appearance on these hallowed pages twenty eight years after releasing this very rare one-off self titled album. What other musical secrets does the Hoosier state have to offer up I wonder? The eight tracks on display here take you on a magical mystery tour of the pompous kind, with reference points to many of the acts which are also featured here at GLORYDAZE. There is a lot of keyboard/guitar interplay, the sort of stuff many of the readers here adore, so I have no doubt that Lifer will appeal to many of you.

The Songs
Having a look elsewhere on the Internet reveals only one other review of this band and this album, written by Willie Van Buel on behalf of Strutter Magazine. Mostly, he is spot on in his assessment. The opener 'Old Sailor's Dream' shifts between softer piano/keyboard parts and what I would describe as semi-bombastic guitar lines in the vein of Air Raid. The tempo is never raised to anything substantial, half-paced at best. The same approach is applied to 'Sweet Lady', with even softer keys and a near whimsical delivery as you would expect with those playing in the pomp genre. The stakes are raised with the rockier 'Eddie Canasta', which tugs at a southern rock style whilst dabbling with some boogie influences as well. 'Take It Away' is probably the most dramatic track on the album. It's a stirring effort with a heap of instrumental passages bordering on progressive rock.
Varying album covers for 'Lifer'..

Willy got it right when comparing 'You'll See Me Through' to the legendary Groundstar. The spacey synth driven intro combined with a spoken word section finally leads us out of the dark and into a hardened guitar rocker. Rick Alexander is the highlight hog on 'Father', with keyboards and pianos on full display. The track undulates throughout, with Kansas like parts and more tempo changes than an erratic metronome! 'You Step On Me' continues the piano/keys laced direction with guitar bursts and assorted hand claps used to fill out the sound. Again, the tempo is restrained. The closer 'Stinkin' Thinkin' takes its lead from other acts during that late 70's era. The southern rock angle will see this track lined alongside the likes of Creed and Hydra, but not before the band closes out with a jazz like sequence for good measure!

In Summary
Back in the day, this album would have had no profile outside of their local Indiana digs, so it remained an underground rarity up until now. Amazingly, Retrospect Records have dug this LP out of the vaults, and released it on their roster during 2008. Some things just never cease to astound me.. Pomp fans have a listen to a couple of tracks we've put up on our audio feed.

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#1 | Eric on October 03 2008 14:29:53
Oops. Rathskeller were from Champaign, IL.
#2 | gdazegod on October 03 2008 20:40:29
Oops indeed.. Shock
Swap Rathskeller for Stencil Forest then.. *blushing*
#3 | Traveller in time on October 03 2008 20:43:52
Hm, a good album, more early pomp than AOR.
Rathskeller is more 80`s sounding, a little bit like

Restrospect, is it a bootleg ?
#4 | gdazegod on October 03 2008 20:57:17
Why is it that everytime Retrospect is involved that the 'term' bootleg is associated? frustration
#5 | Eric on October 03 2008 21:00:57
I do know that when I spoke to members of the band, the masters were tied up (if they still existed at all) with the old manager and no one knew where he was, plus there was an issue with one of the band members who wanted no part of the other guys.

By the way, Champaign is only 30 miles from the Indiana border and Rathskellar opened numerous shows for Roadmaster so its all good.clap
#6 | rostoned on October 03 2008 21:33:34
I am very happy that Sam reissued this, regardless of the master tapes being used or not. Frankly, with the prospect of selling say 500 copies of this who would the be the fool to go into the painful process of finding and cleaning master tapes, doctoring them, baking if necessary etc etc = spending way more than sales would generate? Be aware than even more famous reissue labels, currenty at the top of the game in the melodic reissue niche, they remaster from mint vinyl and not tapes, it is absolutely not cost effective for such small runs. If Sam can correct this I am all eyes.

I only wish royalties are paid to the right people and licensing was done with master owner, that's for sure.
#7 | Eric on October 03 2008 22:02:12
I should have clarified Rostoned- I was refering to Rathskeller via Alfine's comment and what I knew of that situation- sorry!helpless
#8 | rostoned on October 03 2008 22:18:51
On the subject can anyone confirm if the Retrospect edition has a clean sound or has click and pops as taken from a busted vinyl? I downloaded this album via a recent post on a notorious blog and not sure if they uploaded the Retrospect version or not since the one on the blog sounds not very well and has a lot of hiss and clicks and pops.
#9 | gdazegod on October 03 2008 22:32:07
Only Sam can ask that question. I have the same download, but I doubt seriously that it is from a CD. That 'notorious blog' has many contacts in the AOR world, so it wouldn't surprise me that it was sourced from an original vinyl copy. The quality (as you say Rostoned), is very poor.
#10 | Traveller in time on October 04 2008 11:52:28
Sorry, that i had associated "Retro" with bootleg.
It was only a question.
But i have some doubt.
I don`t want pay money for a boot with poor quality and i saw
in the past so many boots with a horrible quality.....
(i don`t mean specially Retro)
#11 | airborne on December 24 2011 23:20:01
To me. This is a very good release. No pops, or crackles, that i can hear.
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