Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bloodrock-Bloodrock (1970)


To hear sample song Melvin Laid An Egg, click here. To read an interview with Bloodrock keyboardist Stevie Hill click here.



Bloodrock was a Texas hard rock band that were best known for their only top 40 hit, DOA. The song was about a dying man in an airplane crash. A keyboard riff simulates a heart monitor. The lyrics are the man's last thoughts before he dies. It ended with the keyboard simulating a flat line. A few radio stations refused to play it when it was a hit and after September 11th, no station will play it now. Bloodrock was reportedly a favorite among troops in Vietnam. They were often the opening band for Grand Funk Railroad and broke up in 1973.

Despite the band's name and biggest hit, Bloodrock was not a band that focused on morbid songs. Their music is mostly akin to Deep Purple and Uriah Heep in that the music has a boogie beat and tons of organ/guitar interplay. They also share a similarity with the Grateful Dead. Non-member Robert Hunter wrote most of the Grateful Dead's lyrics. Likewise, Texas blues guitarist John Nitzinger wrote most of Bloodrock's music. Yet, he never became a member.

The band started out with a strong eponymous first release. Like Grand Funk Railroad, the band liked to jam. There is a lot of jamming in the opening number Gotta Find A Way as well as Timepiece. The heavy riffs of Double Cross, Melvin Laid an Egg and Wicked Truth will satisfy most heavy metal fans. There is also a Doors-like number in Fantastic Piece of Architecture. All these songs wouldn't shine if it weren't for Jim Rutledge's rural sounding lead vocals and Stevie Hill's colorful organ playing.

Whereas most heavy music lyrics either focused on sex, Satan or getting high, Bloodrock's lyrics were different. Timepiece's words deal with a death row prisoner counting the seconds of his life before he is sent to the gallows. Fantastic Piece of Architecture concerns a man making his artistic masterpiece. The song Melvin Laid An Egg involves a sideshow carny trying to make a buck. (One website has suggested that the song refers to Nixon's defense secretary Melvin Laird, his laid egg being the Vietnam War.)

Grand Funk Railroad's Terry Knight produced their debut album. Like Grand Funk Railroad, Bloodrock was a band that was better on stage than in the studio. Knight almost gets the band to match the quality of their live performances.

The band never achieved the fame of their hard rock/heavy metal peers like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. However, this debut album remains an interesting listen for those who like early heavy metal.

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