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Articles Home » 1989 Articles » Stranger - 1989 No Rules
Stranger - 1989 No Rules

ARTIST: Stranger
ALBUM: No Rules
LABEL: Thunderbay
SERIAL: 821-101-1 M3
YEAR: 1989
CD REISSUE: 2005, Retrospect Records, RR-169


LINEUP: Greg Billings - lead vocals * Ronnie Garvin - lead guitar, vocals * Randy Holt - keyboards, harmonica, vocals * Tom Cardenas - bass, vocals * John Price - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Gimme The Rock * 02 Mama Mama * 03 Wrong Side Of The Tracks * 04 We Were Wrong * 05 Swamp Woman * 06 Autumn Time Again * 07 No Rules * 08 Hit And Run * 09 3 D * 10 One More Night * 11 Alligator Joe * 12 Thunder Bay

Many will remember this Tampa based band on the strength on their 1982 Epic Records debut. As good as that album was, Epic saw fit to drop the band before the release of the second LP (originally titled 'Runnin' With The Red', which never saw the light of day). Unperturbed, the band gigged as if nothing had happened, and still drew support gig slots from some of the well established bands out there. It wasn't until the end of the 80's decade that the band resurfaced with their second release 'No Rules', and if anything.. is much better than their first! The band decided to wait out the expiry of their Epic Records contract. The album released on their own Thunderbay Records contains a mixture of blistering hard rock, the occasional well worked AOR tune, and a couple of 'interesting interludes'.

The Songs
No holding back on the opener 'Gimme The Rock', a storming introduction after being out of the limelight for seven years. Billings and Garvin tear it up on the sassy rocker 'Mama Mama' which invokes memories from that classic 70's era.. the lyric if this is love I've had my fill.. says it all really. 'Wrong Side Of The Tracks' has a Helix like vibe to it with some biting guitar work. Changing lanes for the power ballad 'We Were Wrong' highlights Greg Billings vocal delivery - nice to hear him in a different context. Stranger's classic 'Swamp Woman' gets a reworking here after appearing on their debut. It's a reminder of how good this band are/were. After all the HM hi-jinks on the first five songs, the band deliver what must be considered the ultimate change-up, with the bunkum hillbilly sounds of 'Autumn Time Again'. A short ditty, many will find amusement with this. It's followed by the hot-rails instrumental 'No Rules', another short under two minute workout. 'Hit And Run' reminds me a lot of FM's 'Tough It Out' album, also released the same year. '3-D' and 'One More Night' are perhaps Stranger's most AOR moments (both essential listening), while 'Alligator Joe' shows Garvin's heavily blues influenced chops - the 'swampy' sound effects add to the murky musical mix.. excellent stuff! The appropriately titled 'Thunder Bay' finishes up the album, an anthemic rocker with a big sing-along chorus.

In Summary
Interestingly, Stranger were offered a contract with Atlantic Records, but refused to sign because it was no better than their original Epic contract - essentially asking the band to sign their lives away. The band continued on with further albums on their own Thunderbay label, including 'No More Dirty Deals' (1991), 'We Be Live' (1993) and 'Angry Dogs' (1995). As many of us know, guitarist Ronnie Garvin took his own life in October 1996. Beyond that though, Billings and Cardenas are now part of the Greg Billings Band and this band is very much an active outfit in their hometown of Tampa.

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#1 | Emda on August 15 2008 20:16:51
'3-D' is one of the best AOR/MR songs ever.
#2 | gdazegod on November 17 2013 08:42:18
'One More Night' is a reminder of how good these guys were when pushing the AOR wagon..
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