Big-gesture and easygoing, sweetened by Kevin Cronin's ever-enthusiastic voice, "Not So Silent Night" is pretty much the ideal pop Christmas album for early-1980s sentimentalists: double-guitar leads, a little bit of blues, a little bit of country, a lush ballad ("The White Snows of Winter"), a rock shuffle, ("Winter Wonderland"), and some moral high-ground (John Lennon’s "Happy Xmas"). It's a record trading on styles so old and codified, it's incredible that it was made in 2009, but man, is it efficient. (Sony Special Products, $6.98)Click here for review.
Even though REO Speedwagon has played Northeast Ohio many times in its nearly 40-year career, singer Kevin Cronin has one vivid memory tied to Youngstown. Specifically, when it’s mentioned this article is for The Vindicator, the 58-year-old cringes. “I’m very familiar with The Vindicator,” said Cronin, calling from Agoura Hills, Calif. “I had a job in high school working in the mailroom of my dad’s office. He was in the newspaper representation business. He’d have to check to make sure print advertising ran. These gigantic mailbags would get delivered filled with these newspapers, and my job was I’d have to file them. And that Sunday Youngstown Vindicator would come in and, man, that was a bear. The Monday and Tuesday editions were my favorite, but that Sunday would come in and it was no fun.” Yet fun is something Cronin and his band mates found in the ’70s and ’80s with platinum albums (“Ridin’ the Storm Out,” “You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish” and “Wheels Are Turnin’”) and hit singles (“Keep On Loving You,” “Take it on the Run” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling”). Now the group is venturing down a different road with the recent release of its debut holiday album, “Not So Silent Night ... Christmas with REO Speedwagon.” “Three of us in the band �" Bruce Hall, Bryan Hitt and myself �" all have little kids at home, and when we finished our last studio album, ‘Find Your Own Way Home,’ back in 2007, we were thinking what we might want to do next and what haven’t we done yet,” Cronin said. “And the idea came up to make a Christmas album. We thought it might be cute to do that in our spare time and make it into a side project type of thing, but when we started getting into it, the things that we started picking were songs that meant something to us when we were younger. “It turned out that it really wasn’t ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Frosty The Snowman.’ We were choosing songs with a little more meat on the bone like ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Happy Christmas [War is Over].’ I was amazed we were able to pull that off. Our thing was to pick Christmas songs that pretty much people knew and turn the arrangements inside out into REO Speedwagon songs. I’m really proud of this record. I think people will be surprised in a pleasant way when they hear it.” Cronin hinted the band may play a song from the Christmas album at its upcoming co-headlining show with Styx on Saturday at Covelli Centre in Youngstown. That’s not the only special thing fans can expect from these two arena-rock acts. Earlier this year, the bands teamed up to write and record the song “Can’t Stop Rockin’,” which is performed nightly when both groups join forces on stage during the finale. This brings up the pertinent question, why are REO Speedwagon and Styx still a major concert draw 20 years after their last commercial success? “I don’t really know what it is,” Cronin said. “There is some kind of magic that happens when REO and Styx tour together. It’s one of those lucky things. Kind of similar in a way to that Elton John and Billy Joel thing, where they found that synergy and the sum of the parts is bigger than the individuals. That’s kind of how it is with us and Styx. When we pool our resources, we can bring a much bigger production along with us, and that’s fun. And the music just resonates with people. So we just keep it going. We’re having fun and people are digging it. It’s all good.”Click here for review.
Rock veterans REO Speedwagon have released their new Christmas album 'Not So Silent Night,' which hit stores Nov. 3. The album features 13 holiday classics ranging from traditional carols to unique, obscure tunes. Some of the songs on their album repertoire include 'Little Drummer Boy,' 'Silent Night,' 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Happy Xmas (War is Over),' with the band donating all artist royalties from 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)' to the John Lennon Foundation. Check out AOL Radio's Rock Holiday station to hear a selection of songs from the album.Click here for review.
November 02, 2009 by General Jabbo It's been a busy few years for veteran rockers REO Speedwagon. From releasing their first album in more than a decade, one that had the band rediscovering its rock roots" 2007's Find Your Own Way Home" to nonstop touring with the likes of Styx, Journey, and Night Ranger, the band has worked at a harder pace than many bands half their age. Now, nearly 40 years after their debut, REO is releasing its first Christmas album. Not So Silent Night mixes traditional Christmas carols, obscure gems, and a cover of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" with the classic REO sound" big, melodic choruses and guitars. The album begins sweetly with a short, melodic version of "The First Noel," before segueing into a bluesy "Winter Wonderland." 'Silent Night" and "Children Go Where I Send Thee" show the band in a surprisingly gospel vein and prove to be highlights of the disc with the former done as a ballad with choir and the latter as an up-tempo number. For a band most famous for its ballads, the fact the slower material works better here is not surprising. "The White Snows of Winter" in particular stands out and should prove to be a favorite of fans of the band's softer side. The Lennon cover is by the numbers and while not an improvement over the classic original is still a strong track. In keeping with the holiday spirit, all proceeds from this track go to the Foundation. The band's cover of "Blue Christmas" finds them veering off into country territory in surprisingly convincing fashion While the band rocks up their versions of "Deck The Halls" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman," these versions come off as forced and aren't to the same standard as the rest of the CD. Still the positives outweigh the negatives here. REO Speedwagon may not be the first band people think of when it comes to recording a Christmas album, but they make it work. Fans of the band and of should enjoy this release for years to come.Click here for review.
Breakout box FAST FACTS How did REO Speedwagon get its name? From a flatbed truck, first built in the early 1900s. It was high-speed and heavy-duty for its day, and was considered a milestone in the history of transportation. It was sometimes outfitted as a fire engine. The letters REO are the initials of Ransom Eli Olds, who went on to create the Oldsmobile. How did Styx get its name? Formerly known as Tradewinds, band members called themselves TW4 when a band with a similar sounding name broke through. It then picked a new name when signing a record deal in 1972. Styx was reportedly chosen because it was the only name suggested that nobody disliked. STATELINE -- Even though their heydays were decades ago, REO Speedwagon and Styx performed their hearts out Friday during the Lake Tahoe Summer Concert Series at Harveys Outdoor Arena. The same could be said for many fans who filled at least 90 percent of the estimated 7,000 seats. They cheered loudly for the performers and often sang and rocked along with hits mostly made popular the 1970s and 1980s. Bands played for about 70 minutes each. Styx and REO have been sharing venues off and on since 2000. REO Speedwagon kicked things off with "Don't Let Him Go" and "Take it on the Run." After the openers, REO lead vocalist Kevin Cronin, who moves as well as someone half his age, cracked a joke about a few empty seats toward the front rows. "I don't know where all these people with the expensive seats are," said Cronin, 57. Cronin then suggested those in the back take any empty front seats. The joke kept security guards busy for the next few minutes checking tickets at the front section and turning away those without appropriate tickets. Cronin recalled the band's early days, which started at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in the late 1960s playing in campus bars. When on stage, Cronin said REO members haven't forgot where they came from and when performing in front of crowds, they prefer to pretend they're in a small bar setting. Other songs included "Keep on Loving You," "Roll with the Changes" and "On the Road Again." The encore was "Ridin' the Storm Out." Styx took to the stage after a 30 minute intermission and opened with "Miss America" and "Too Much Time on my Hands." After performing "Long Nights," Styx guitar player and vocalist James Young talked about the song's meaning and relevance. "That song about the unemployment line from the 1970s is all too familiar," said Young, 59. "We have to feel the power that we can change things and make them right again." Among those who stood out on the stage was keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, who spun the keyboard at times, played it standing backward, stood on it and did moves that resemble those of an exotic dancer. Other songs played included "You're Fooling Yourself," "Come Sail Away" and "Grand Illusion." "Renegade" was the encore. Band members tossed guitar picks to the audience and threw out band-labeled Frisbees and other items. Beach balls were tossed out at the end.Click here for review.
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