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Articles Home » 1976 Articles » Roadmaster - 1976 Roadmaster
Roadmaster - 1976 Roadmaster

ARTIST: Roadmaster
ALBUM: Roadmaster
LABEL: Village Records
YEAR: 1976


LINEUP: Asher Benrubi - vocals * Stephan McNally - vocals * Rick Benick - guitars * Michael Read - keyboards * Toby Myers - bass * Steve Riley - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 That Magic Feeling * 02 Sunala Jones * 03 AM/PM * 04 Be My Baby * 05 Boogalate * 06 Its Been So Long * 07 Who Can Sing Like Fat Boy Do * 08 I Still Wanna Love You * 09 Love Me Baby * 10 In The Light

Wind the clock back to the early 70's. The location? Indiana University campus, and a bunch of blokes undecided whether to play music in the style of British progressive rock or Motown soul/funk. Diametrically opposed styles, somehow this outfit under the guise of Pure Funk made it work. With personnel bringing different influences to the table, this band would eventually end up being one of AOR's cult favourite bands: Roadmaster. At this early point, their singer was the larger than life Asher Benrubi (a.k.a Adam Smasher), Massachusetts raised drummer Steven Riley, Washington DC native Rick Benick, plus two Indiana homeboys Toby Myers and Michael 'Bones' Read. Their definitive style of AOR wouldn't come home to roost until a few years after this 1976 debut album, which though funk oriented, contained enough moments of promise to indicate which direction they would eventually take. The band's songwriting at this stage was dominated by keyboardist Read, who was heavily influenced by Todd Rundgren, who as it turned out, produced a few tracks on this album. Released by local Indianapolis label Village Records, the album would also introduce future vocalist Steve 'Mac' McNally, who sang a couple of songs here.

The Songs
'Roadmaster' the album has often been described as the band's weakest link, though longtime fans needn't feel discouraged as there are a surprising number of good songs on offer, which (as said earlier) gives us a glimpse into the keyboard laden future. 'That Magic Feeling' which opens this album's account is less about funk but more about 70's rock with amazing harmony vocals. 'Sunala Jones' is where the band start demonstrating their chops, here you can taste the individual solo skills of Benick, Read and Myers, all interweaving their musical tapestry. This segues into the soul/blues workout of 'AM/PM' where Read dominates with piano licks accompanied by Benick's searing guitar work. 'Be My Baby' is certainly a by-product of 1976, and sounds like the future template for Roadmaster's music. 'Boogalate' (which I think is pronounced Booga Latte) is one funky instrumental that shows where the band's thinking was during this timeframe, so too 'It's Been So Long' which has the same vibe that Wild Cherry were working with in 1976. Definitely white mans funk! The best known track on the album would be 'Who Can Sing Like Fat Boys Do', and with Benrubi driving this one on vocals, the focus is up front for the 'bigger than Ben Hur' vocalist! Adding a bit of sunshine to the mix is 'I Still Wanna Love You', a track which is a pre-cursor to their mid-west brand of AOR yet to come. The only true ballad here is 'Love Me Baby' which isn't really a touch on what we've heard thus far, the album finishing up with the synth heavy 'In The Light', a quite remarkable song and very underrated throughout the entire Roadmaster catalog I would suggest.

In Summary
Roadmaster returned in 1978 for their popular second album 'Sweet Music', and in between times travelled all over the USA in support of other popular bands doing the rounds at the time. Former Exile drummer Bobby Johns would replace Riley on drums, Riley moving on to what was a notable career playing for the likes of The B'zz, Keel, W.A.S.P and L.A Guns with whom he continues to play today.

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#1 | Eric on September 13 2011 04:28:47
Dead-on review and I think its a charming record despite the low-points. Hopefully it will be reissued too...
#2 | Nick C on September 16 2011 15:31:02
I really like this one a good foundation stone for the band with hints of what was to come. 'Adam Smasher' had a pretty cool vibe about him.
#3 | rkbluez on January 16 2012 13:59:00
Got to agree this one had some good songs on it...haven't played it in ages...I mastered it from vinyl to CDR about 4 - 5 years ago...might have to dig through the pile and pull this one out for a quick listen to refresh my memory.
#4 | super80boy on September 22 2013 17:11:29
I'm collecting the Roadmaster albums and have started with the debut. Your review is very accurate. There are some really good songs here that hint to future things to come and then there are the mid 70's rock sounds that are not bad.
#5 | tompa on September 07 2015 22:57:47
Had it been my first encounter with Roadmaster I might not got hear SWEET MUSIC which would of course have been a cryin shame. But luckily it was the other way around. Came to appreciate it a lot more as the years have gone by. THAT MAGIC FEELING and IN THE LIGHT are great songs.
#6 | reyno-roxx on September 08 2015 18:18:47
Asher Benrubi is a fantastic guy. He was of huge help with background on the foundation of Roadmaster for the Rock Candy reissues of the later albums, to the point where it was embarrassing to me that this album wasn't going to feature in the re-releases. Because he was the only band member to show an interest in the programme and agree to be interviewed. He is a big personality in his adopted hometown of St Louis. I can't speak highly enough about him.
#7 | gdazegod on September 09 2015 00:00:10
That was real disappointing to find out none of the other blokes were interested in assisting you Reyno..
#8 | Eric on September 09 2015 12:06:10
Benrubi was the guy who played the Starcastle demo on Indianapolis radio. Without him, well.....
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