Ridin' the Storm Out (1974)

1. Ridin' the Storm Out 2. Whiskey Night 3. Oh Woman 4. Find My Fortune 5. Open Up 6. Movin' 7. Son of a Poor Man 8. Start of a New Life 9. It's Everywhere 10.Without Expression (Don't Be the Man)


REO Speedwagon's third album found them with their third different lead singer. Although things weren't really planned that way. Supposedly, much of this record was written, and even recorded, with Kevin Cronin still in the band, but apparently there were too many internal conflicts going on, so he was fired from the group. Rumor has it that he was even airbrushed off the front cover of the album.

Enter Michael Murphy, who to my knowledge really never did anything of note prior nor done anything significant since. I don't know how much influence the guy had on the record, and the fact that Cronin was present during much of the process, I would have to guess not much. Whatever the case, this album is a big step backwards. A very big step backwards.

I should be stating that this is mostly my opinion. I was seven years old when this record came out, and had I been in my twenties and more into the early seventies scene with flared trousers and floral shirts, my tastes may have been significantly different. In other words, the record has aged poorly. Whereas their first two records had an element of fun scattered about - lots of tracks to boogie to, this one is much more straightforward, and therefore quite boring. The title track, which is the one song that has survived in the bands repertoire, really isn't that good either. It does sound better these days in concert without the thick instrumentation and without Michael Murphy's growly snarl, but it is, according to many, the "highlight" of the record.

if that's the case, you know the rest is bound to be pretty awful, and it is. Personally, the only song I find remotely tolerable is Son of a Poor Man which is the only thing that even half-way resembles the band before this release. Find My Fortune is somewhat decent, and I'm thinking that the main reason why I somewhat favor the song is because Gary Richrath is singing lead vocals. Somewhat favorable because Richrath sounds a bit like Cronin.

Since Cronin was present through much of this endeavor, I'm really not convinced that his presence would have changed the overall result, though. You also can't really blame the guys for going in a different direction since they hadn't exactly been lighting up the charts. Again, though, if this music is more akin to your tastes (definitely not mine) you might enjoy it somewhat more than I do.

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