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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » RPM - 1984 Phonogenic
RPM - 1984 Phonogenic

ALBUM: Phonogenic
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 1-25079
YEAR: 1984


LINEUP: Robert White Johnson - vocals * Mark Gendel - guitars, guitar synthesizer * Jimmie Lee Sloas - bass, keyboards * Tommy Wells - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Man Overboard * 02 Head In The Sand * 03 Savoir Faire * 04 Ceylon Ceylon * 05 Piece Of Glass * 06 Pay Attention To Me * 07 No One Answer * 08 It's Only Water * 09 The Curtains Gonna Fall

This is the second/follow up album to the acclaimed debut from US Radio rock heroes RPM. This time around, the boys get over to the UK to have this album recorded, and they're on a new label as well, shifting house from the rabble that was EMI America to Warner Bros. Well then. How can RPM top what was an essential AOR album two years previous? The answer? they couldn't - but admittedly not by much!. The music this time around is still melodic and catchy as hell. They've gone hi-tech but have tried to keep to their AOR roots, but the ground is moving all around them. There are all sorts of 'off the wall' passages and weird effects throughout, which makes the overall listening experience slightly uneven, but being RPM, there are still some essential songs to listen to. Bob Johnson sounds a lot like Billy Trudel on this record, and comparisons to bands of that ilk (The City, Life By Night, Eight Seconds) are an appropriate fit I think. One thing is obvious: they've moved away from the radio rock style which was closer to the style of Van Zant as witnessed on their debut.

The Songs
The opening pair of 'Man Overboard' and 'Head In The Sand' are slightly different, but once you've listened to them a few times, you'll keep coming back to them. You gotta love 'Savoir Faire', which is very hi-tech, sounding like 'Almacantar' era Eight Seconds. 'Ceylon Ceylon' has a taste of the exotic (and we're not talking tea either!), veering close to the orbit of new romantic style rock a la Life By Night. 'Piece Of Glass' has lots of atmospheric qualities.. the chorus in particular begs for attention while Gendel has a go at pulling off some Dann Huff stunt guitar! Funnily enough, Side Two kicks off with 'Pay Attention To Me'.. with it's dramatic vocal rendition from a group of children a la Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick In The Wall'. 'No One Answer' is a deadringer for The City ( I wonder what Peter MacIan would think of that?), followed by the heavy-handed 'Its Only Water'. The closer, the appropriately named 'The Curtains Gonna Fall' is a myriad of musical styles.. commonly known as a mish-mash. Interesting.. if anything else.

In Summary
So, in summary, yes it's an album that's worth the hunt, and though different in approach to the classic debut, it is still classy in it's own right. It can be said that both RPM records need to be in your record collection. In the 'where did they go to stakes? Bob Johnson is a well known session musician and songwriter in the capital of songwriters.. Nashville, while Jimmy Lee Sloas (a.k.a Jimmie Lee.. as it was in this album's liner notes) is similarly involved, though primarily with Christian rock artists.

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#1 | sabace on December 24 2007 16:40:50
#2 | rostoned on April 06 2008 17:02:38
interesting, off the wall, peculiar melodic and very techno aor. but personally and in all honesty if I give their debut a 10, this one is a 7.
#3 | richardb on June 15 2008 14:22:01
Although it's very different from the debut and less immediate, I like the quirky hi-tech approach. A supremely talented band that deserved to be hugely successful..

Richard B
#4 | Eric on December 23 2008 20:01:33
It took me a while to warm up to this record, but I like it as much as the debut now days. Superb indeed.
#5 | reyno-roxx on June 28 2011 16:40:37
Just picked up Megadeth's 'The System Has Failed' (2004) for a bargain £3 in 'Fopp' and who should be credited for bass on all tracks but Jimmie Lee Sloas!
#6 | super80boy on May 18 2013 22:16:10
Definitely a different approach on this effort. A more polished/lush keyboard influenced affair that sounds like The FIXX at times, especially on 'No One Answer'. Still a cool record that sits right next to their stunning debut in my collection.
#7 | rostoned on November 25 2015 07:19:49
RPM - 1984 Man Overboard (official clip)

#8 | gdazegod on November 25 2015 11:14:15
Nice Filippo.. Love this band, but weird video.. lol! Thumbs Up
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