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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Rubicon - 1980 America Dreams
Rubicon - 1980 America Dreams

ARTIST: Rubicon
ALBUM: America Dreams
LABEL: 20th Century Records
YEAR: 1980


LINEUP: Brad Gillis - guitar, vocals * Jack Blades - vocals, bass * Greg Eckler - drums * Jim Pugh - keyboards * Jerry Martini - saxophone * Dennis Marcellino - saxophone * Max Haskett - trumpet

TRACK LISTING: 01 Love On The Run * 02 Hungry For Your Love * 03 Dr. Spears * 04 Washington 73 * 05 Let Yourself Go * 06 Eyes Of Mary * 07 Gimme Some Lovin' (The Spencer Davis Group Cover) * 08 Higher And Higher * 09 Too Good To Take For Granted * 10 America Dreams

Quite how Gillis and Blades went from funk to AOR in such a short time is a mystery, but Rubicon's horn infused, r 'n' b direction could not be more opposed to Night Ranger's melodic rock stance if it tried. That's not to say this should be avoided at all. In the late seventies many a band attempted to mix AOR melody with funky bass lines, but not to this extent. In that regard Rubicon succeeded and anyone looking for traces of pre Night Ranger here would probably be disappointed and shocked. Instead the material moves similarly to artists like Rick James or early Commodores and Kool And The Gang. Yes that's correct. The odd AOR ingredient is thrown in for good measure, but not nearly enough to dispel the notion these guys were far from what they seemed. It was the second and final effort from Rubicon, following the Californian's 1978 self titled debut.

The Songs
'Too Good To Take For Granted' has a Hall And Oates touch to it, soul styled vocals with the sax at the forefront, and could easily be mistaken for Hall himself on vocals. No hard rock motivations whatsoever here, just plain soul. The title track is an anthem and a half, with the 'Dragnet' theme included within, the smooth AOR backing vocals close to The Tubes, almost a parody track, with some of the best white funk you are ever likely to hear. Red Hot Chilli Peppers were far too late. The horn work is dominant through all nine tracks, adding that streetwise edge, along with the quite devastating guitar work of Gillis, who at any moment is laying down solos inspired by hard rock to pop.

Blades likewise shows a different side to his bass work, 'Hungry For Your Love' sounding more a vehicle for Parliament or James Brown. At the same time the riffs have that 1978 Player atmosphere, a wicked combination indeed. 'Dr Spears' gives Rick James a run for raunchy boogie superiority, but 'Washington 73' instead hurls an AOR ballad at the listener, with Ambrosia in its veins. The heavy funk resumes on 'Let Yourself Go' and 'Eyes Of Mary' before a scintillating cover of 'Gimme Good Lovin' that could have been included on 'The Warriors' soundtrack alongside 'Nowhere To Run'.

In Summary
There is an intriguing element to 'America Dreams', that of hearing a white band emulating their black counterparts and equalling them with particular ease! This was the end of the line for Rubicon, but this is superb listening for those with a a taste for prime time funk. Imagining Night Ranger carrying elements of Rubicon could have been a worthwhile attempt. Surely? I imagine this was not to the taste of many a rock fan in the era it was produced in, but for trying something different Rubicon proved themselves innovators. Invigorating to say the least.

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#1 | gdazegod on October 30 2006 00:34:44
I think these guys are playing in that same mid-late seventies mode as the band Rare Earth.
#2 | rkbluez on April 22 2012 01:45:01
Really like this album as well as their s/t album and would love to see a decent reissue label like Edsel maybe do a two on one...even better if Rock Candy would do them... Renaissance did them but to say they did a butcher job on them is an understatement.
#3 | dangerzone on March 10 2015 15:10:48
I could swear I wrote this all those years ago ...
#4 | Eric on March 10 2015 15:14:48
You did Alun. This is your review.
#5 | gdazegod on March 10 2015 20:50:25
Oops.. my bad.. fix it soon..
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