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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Artful Dodger - 1980 Rave On
Artful Dodger - 1980 Rave On

ARTIST: Artful Dodger
ALBUM: Rave On
LABEL: Arista
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: Self Released with bonus tracks


LINEUP: Billy Paliselli - lead & background vocals * Steve Cooper - bass, background vocals * Steve Brigida - drums, percussion * Gary Herrewig - guitars, background vocals * Peter Bonta - piano

TRACK LISTING: 01 She's Just My Baby * 02 It's A Lie * 03 So Afraid * 04 Get In Line * 05 Now Or Never Mind * 06 Come Close To Me * 07 I Don't Wanna See Her * 08 Forever * 09 A Girl (La La La) * 10 Gone Again


Virginia's Artful Dodger are one third of America's 'me decade' underground power pop holy trinity but outside a sugar-coated inner circle of pop geeks in the know, the band has never received the same critical accolades and the hipster status currently afforded The Raspberries and in particular Big Star. While Cheap Trick, who were always in a cartoonish class by themselves catapulted to major success; Artful Dodger whose first flawless album was released in 1975, failed commercially but it wasn't for a lack of trying. True blue road warriors, the band toured with all the big shots of the day including Kiss, Ted Nugent, Rush, Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd as well as down under upstarts AC/DC, even pulling off multiple headline shows of their own in rust belt towns like Cleveland and Pittsburgh and yet few bought the records and radio for the most part didn't seem to care.

The Songs
By 1977 following their third album, the vastly under rated 'Babes On Broadway'; Columbia dropped the band like a hot potato as did their management. With the departure of guitarist Gary Cox, Artful Dodger floundered until signing with Ariola for their LP 'Rave On'. It would be their last, but what a cool album it is, dropping the occasional hard rock tendencies of their early albums in favor of a pure power pop outing that's simply magic. Sounding like Badfinger backing The Faces; Artful Dodger's biggest selling point was gravely vocalist Billy Paliselli who sang like Rod Stewart before he went soft. Matched with tuneful pop-smart songs like 'She's Just My Baby', the jangly, criminally ignored single 'I Don't Want To See Her' and the infectious 'A Girl (La La La)', the album paints a picture of a band who put out uncompromising gimmick-free rock at a time when the' next big thing' was just around the corner. There might be a skinny tie or two on the cover photo, but Artful Dodger were kicking out real power pop long before The Knack ever dreamed of setting foot in a studio. 'Rave On' set the record straight.

In Summary
Self-released on CD a few years back with several live tracks as a bonus, the vinyl rip sound quality left much to be desired and a 2009 reunion show at Cleveland's historic Agora didn't amount to anything other than a sentimental one-off. Artful Dodger's second album 'Honor Among Thieves' was reissued in 2007 on the lamented American Beat label and the debut in 1997 which came and went and I missed out on. No time like the present and hopefully some enterprising label will offer freshly minted versions of the first, 'Babes on Broadway' and 'Rave On' from the masters for all to hear.

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