The Rods
American Heavy Metal!

The Rods The Rods (High Vaultage) 1981

1. "Power Lover" (2:36)
2. "Crank It Up" (3:33)
3. "Hungry For Some Love" (4:20)
4. "Music Man" (4:22)
5. "Woman" (3:26)
6. "Nothing Going on In The City" (3:43)
7. "Get Ready To Rock'n'Roll" (2:27)
8. "Ace In The Hole" (4:24)
9. "Rock Hard" (4:07)
10. "Roll With The Night" (2:12)
11. "Getting Higher" (3:38)
12. "Wings of Fire" (3:43)

The Rods debut album ranks with with Riot's first three albums and even those early Y&T classics as some of the most underrated heavy metal albums of all time. Far before their time, few were rocking this hard in the disco era of 1981. OF course there were scads of fans looking for heavy music as the growing New Wave of Heavy Metal was growing, especially in Europe. I wore the grooves off of this record back in the early 80's. The Rods play raunchy, dirty, American heavy metal. The band had melody, but they also had that attitude that only an American metal band could deliver at the time. Chock full of headbanging anthems from my youth, words cannot really describe the nostalgia trip that songs like "Power Lover", "Crank It Up", "Music Man" and the raucous "Nothing Going on in the City" bring. The music is delivered with a fast and furious, almost punk delivery from a young and energetic band. You can almost feel the hungry energy of the band. David "Rock" Feinstein tears up the fretboards like few others were doing at this time. Of course Feinstein had formerly made a name for himself as the guitarist for Elf, with his cousin Ronnie James Dio. (Feinstein played on Elf's debut album). Songs like the bluesy, melancholy "Woman" even bring in some of those 1970's influences. Likewise "Get Ready to Rock 'n' Roll" has some guitar work that reminds me of Rainbow's "Long Live Rock n Roll".

Originally recorded in 1980 and released as an independent album titled "Rock Hard", the Rods debut was later picked-up and released in 1981 by Arista Records as the "The Rods". The album was remastered and reissued in 1997 by High Vaultage records with two bonus tracks. The 16 page booklet contains extensive footnotes, artist biographies, reviews, etc. "Gettin' Higher" was originally released on the "Rock Hard" album, but not on the Arista release. "Wings of Fire" was taken from the "You Keep Me Hangin'" single.

Full Throttle The Rods – Full Throttle EP (Arista) 1981

1. Power Lover
2. Nothing Going On In The City
3. Crank It Up
4. Getting Higher

Four song EP released in the UK in 1981 to prime people for the full length Rods album. Only "Getting Higher" is exclusive to this EP with
the other three tracks being on the full-length album.

Wild Dogs The Rods - Wild Dogs (High Vaultage) 1982

1. "Too Hot to Stop" (4:03)
2. "Waiting for Tomorrow" (3:53)
3. "Violation" (5:03)
4. "Burned by Love" (4:03)
5. "Wild Dogs" (3:26)
6. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (3:45)
7. "Rockin' 'N' Rollin' Again" (3:12)
8. "End of the Line" (5:22)
9. "No Sweet Talk, Honey" (3:29)
10. "The Night Lives to Rock" (3:15)
11. "Rockin 'n' Rolling Again" [live] (3:33)
12. "Waiting for Tomorrow" [live] (3:49)
13. "The Night Lives to Rock" [live] (3:46)
14. "Too hot to Stop" [live] (4:16)
15. "Power Lover" [live] (4:36)

"Wild Dogs" is one of those underrated heavy metal classics from the early 80's. Many considered The Rods to be the American version of Motorhead, but in all honestly, even Motorhead wasn't tearing up the fretboard like this in '82. David "Rock" Feinstein simply shreds like few others were doing in his time. For the most part, "Wild Dogs" is a solid, outstanding heavy metal platter although the cover of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" is a bit of a dog compared to total shredders like "Too Hot to Stop" and the scorching title track. "Volation" has a slight AC/DC vibe to it. I do think that "Wild Dogs" has a slightly more commercial edge to it, compared to the band's debut. However, I don't think anyone would ever accuse The Rods of being an overly commercial metal band. "Wild Dogs" is pure, hard 'n' heavy metal that was light years ahead of it's time.

This album was originally released in 1982 on Arista Records and finally reissued in 2004 on CD by High Vaultage Records with 5 excellent live bonus tracks. High Vaultage knows how to put together a re-release. The booklet contains extensive liner notes from the band and also includes reviews from 1982, interviews from this era of the band as well as a few photos. I no longer have my vinyl copy of this album, but I'd be willing to be that this re-release was also remastered.

In the Raw The Rods - In The Raw (High Vaultage) 1983

1. "Hurricane" (4:42)
2. "Can't Get Enough Of The Fun" (3:12)
3. "Witches' Brew" (5:08)
4. "Go For Broke" (3:10)
5. "Hot Love" (3:25)
6. "Hot City" (5:39)
7. "Streetfighter" (3:45)
8. "Evil Woman" (2:27)
9. "Hold On For Your Live" (3:40)
10. "Another Night On The Town" (4:12)
11. "In Your Panties" [instrumental] (:47)
12. "Stay On Top" (3:20)
13. "Nothing Going On in the City" [live] (3:26)
14. "Whole Lotta Led" [live] (12:14)
...a. "Heartbreaker"
...b. "Living Loving Maid"
...c. "Communication Breakdown"
...d. "The Lemon Song"
15. "End of the Line" [live] (5:06)

The Rods third album came after being dropped by Arista Records and was initially recorded as a demo. Without a label the band settled for Shrapnel Records and released "In the Raw" as it was recorded in it's demo for. "In the Raw" is actually a good name for this CD as the recording has that raw, live feel to it. Some may sneer at the less than perfect recording, but those of us who know and love metal can appreciate the charisma that the production brings to this album. Actually, I think this live feel works to The Rods benefit and gives them a power that may have been lost, had the production been overly polished. Musically, the band continues down similar roads as their last two, punching out chunky, hard rocking, heavy metal. "Witches Brew" ranks among one of the Rods finest cuts. "Another Night On The Town" is another of those songs influence heavily by Ritchie Blackmore. The main riff in this particular tracks reminds me of "Man on a Silver Mountain". While this may seem to be 'stealing' a riff, it is clear that Fienstien was merely playing tribute to the man that inspired him to pick up a guitar.

The 1998 re-release of this CD contains a bunch of bonus material. The short instrumental "In Your Panties" was originally recorded in 1979 for the "Rock Hard" LP. "Stay On Top" is a low quality, rehersal recording and a very uncharacteristically funky song for the Rods. The remainder of the songs are live and taken from various sources. The Zeppelin medley is pretty cool, although it's pretty obvious the source of these live tracks was some crappy cassette as their are points where the sound drops here and there. Of course, this stuff wasn't really meant for hi-fidelity listening. These bonus tracks are really for the die-hards who are looking for a little extra. As such, these tracks are a cool inclusion. On top of the bonus material, the booklet contains a lengthy biography on the band at this time in their career.

Live The Rods - Live (Combat) 1984

1. "I Live for Rock'n'Roll" (4:05)
2. "Hellbound" (4:08)
3. "Born to Rock" (3:54)
4. "The Viper" (2:43)
5. "Violation" (6:61)
5. "Speed Demon" (3:32)
6. "Hurricane" (6:08)
7. "Devils Child" (3:10)
8. "Rabid Thunder" (3:32)
9. "Cold Sweat and Blood" (5:27)
10. "Record World Radio Spot" (0:57)
11. "Sit Down Honey" (2:35)
12. "Ace in the Hole" (4:31)
13. "Long Road" (3:42)
14. "WAAF Radio Spot & Interview" (4:39)


Back in 1984, I picked up this record at a record shop brand new. It was actually my first exposure to The Rods and it made me a fan. It was at that point I went back looking for the band's first three albums. On here, The Rods ditch the studio polish to release a live batch of vicious, anthemic, blue-collar heavy metal numbers. In a live setting, the band was loud and raunchy, almost like Ted Nugent meets Motorhead. They were fun live band as they interacted with the audience quite a bit, which is quite apparent throughout this album. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered that many The Rods fans didn't like this album as much as their previous studio releases. Reading the liner notes to this High Vaultage reissue, it seems even the band feels that this live album was a bit of a mistake. Well, perhaps to some this was a low point in The Rods catalog, for me it was a starting point and because of that, I still enjoy this album some three decades later. The High Vaultage reissue includes several bonus tracks, including track five, "Violation". The songs at the end of the disc aren't of the same quality as the other ten tracks, but are still a good listen and nice to have.

Let Them Eat Metal The Rods - Let Them Eat Metal (High Vaultage) 1984

1. "Let Them Eat Metal" (3:52)
2. "White Lightning" (3:55)
3. "Nuclear Skies" (3:37)
4. "Rock Warriors" (3:22)
5. "Bad Blood" (3:08)
6. "She's So Tight" (3:04)
7. "Got The Fire Burnin'" (2:34)
8. "I'm A Rocker" (3:25)
9. "She's Such a Bitch" (2:27)
10. "You'd Better Run" (2:30)
11. "Life On The Edge" (4:53)
12. "Evil Woman / Popeye's Drum Solo" [live] (9:29)
13. "Too Hot To Stop" (3:55)

I think this is one of those albums you just had to be there for. It seems most people don't seem to even remember The Rods, and if they do they only seem to remember the "Wild Dogs" album. However, when "Let the Eat Metal" was released in '84 on Combat Records, this was one monster of a heavy metal record. For some reason, people have just forgotten about this gem. While the sound was a bit more polished than their first three, it was still solid, straight forward heavy metal in an AC/DC meets Motorhead style. The 1998 High Vaultage reissue includes four bonus tracks, including a cover of "You'd Better Run", which I believe was originally recorded by, or at least made famous by Pat Benatar.

Heavier Than Thou Hollywood The Rods - Heavier Than Thou / Hollywood (Passport) 1986

Heavier Than Thou
1. Heavier Than Thou (1:46)
2. Make Me a Believer (4:06)
3. Angels Never Run (3:29)
4. Crossfire (4:37)
5. I'm Gonna Rock (3:14)
6. She's Trouble (4:13)
7. Born to Rock (3:45)
8. Chains of Love (4:02)
9. Communication Breakdown (3:18)
10. Fool for Your Love (3:47)
11. Cold Sweat and Blood (3:22)
12. The Music Man (0:44)
13. Prisoner of Love
14. Love Is Pain
15. Tokyo Rose
16. Make Your Move
17. Mississippi Queen
18. Heat of the Night
19. All American Boys
20. Don't Take It So Hard
21. Money

"Heavier Than Thou" would be the last album for The Rods as a power trio until 2011. It was also the first album not to features the classic Feinstein, Bordonaro and Canedy line-up. Bassist Craig Gruber came in to replace Gary Bordonaro. "Heavier Than Thou" is a diamond in the rough album, an under-rated gem, an over-looked heavy metal masterpiece. No, it's not progressive, or thrashy, or glammy, or any of those styles of music that were overshadowing good old heavy metal in 1986. Rather it's  just blue-collar, anthemic heavy metal at its finest. The Rods are heavy rock in the spirit of Motorhead, though the two bands do not sound alike.

The albums opens with a minute-and-a-half intro that is built around vocal harmonies and keyboards before launching into "Make Me a Believer", an aggressive yet melodic track that is the basis for the sound on his album. Follow-up track "Angels Never Run" features of a killer hook and could have been a hit for the band, but unfortunately flew under the radar. There are some brooding slower tracks such as "Fool For You Love", fist-pumping heavy metal anthems such as "I'm Gonna Rock" and some double-bass driven speedy numbers like "Crossfire". There is even a cover of Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown". The Rods "Heavier Than Thou" should be held up in the high esteem with the upper echelon heavy metal bands of the 80's. Unfortunately it's a forgotten gem.

"Hollywood" is thought of as a Rods album, though it was meant to me a completely seperate project and was the only album to not be a power trio. Joining along with the classic Feinstein, Bordonaro and Canedy line-up is vocalist Rick Caudle and keyboardist Emma Zale, who both help to give the band a more melodic and commercially viable edge. However, it's not a departure from the bands blue-collar heavy metal at all. In fact, it sounds like a natural progression from "Heavier Than Thou". As with most of The Rods albums, "Hollywood" features a cover song. This time around it's the classic Mountain track "Mississippi Queen". However, it's not the cover songs that make this album enjoyable. Rather it's originals such as the melodic "Tokyo Rose" and "Love Is Pain" as well as the more driving tracks such as album opener "Prisoner of Love" and "Money".

Vengeance The Rods - Vengeance (Niji Entertainment Group) 2011

1.   Raise Some Hell (4:23)
2.   I Just Wanna Rock (4:59)
3.   Rebels Highway (4:27)
4.   Ride Free Or Die (4:11)
5.   The Code (5:15)
6.   Let It Rip (3:35)
7.   Livin' Outside The Law (5:57)
8.   Fight Fire With Fire (4:15)
9.   Madman (3:42)
10. Running Wild (4:42)
11. Vengeance (4:46)

The Rods are heavy metal pioneers. Their first album was released independently in 1980 when metal was just resurfacing from it's near death knell in the late 70's. In their prime they were underrated and didn't receive the accolades they deserved, instead they achieved the cult status and underground notoriety that bands like Anvil, Riot and Exciter received. In other words, they were a band that true fans of heavy metal adored. Those of us that hung around our local record stores, riffling through boxes of vinyls looking for those rare gems. Those days are, unfortunately, long lost to the internet and big chain stores like Wal-Mart who carry only a select few titles.

As if 25 years hadn't passed since their last album as The Rods, the power trio returns with a new studio album that sounds as if it could have been the follow up to "Heavier Than Thou". Actually, truth be told, "Vengeance" sounds like it could have been the follow-up to "In the Raw" or "Let them Eat Metal". Musically, the band has stayed true to their roots. The only hint of a more modern sound is in the beefier recording and production. The albums first two cuts are prime The Rods. Both tracks are straight-forward, simple, ass-kicking American heavy metal. "Let it Rip" is a speed metal rocker and a definite standout cut on the disc. The album is also noteworthy as it features one of the very last studio recordings of the late, great Ronnie James Dio on vocals. Dio lends his veteran pipes to the doomy "The Code". Other standout cuts are "Running Wild" and the albums closing title track. This is a band that made strides to deliver an album that their die-hard fans would enjoy.

Despite my overall joy of finally having something new from The Rods, "Vengeance" isn't a perfect album. There are a few songs that don't work as well as others. For instance, "Livin' Outside the Law", despite having a cool guitar solo section in the middle, is a bit of an awkward song. As well, some of the vocals are a little mundane and not quite up to the standards that band set on their 80's classics. However, these are minor complaints as I still find "Vengeance" to be an thoroughly enjoyable album.

There is an error on the CD. The song "Let it Rip" is track 6, and "Livin' Outside the Law" is track 7. The tracks are not only mislabeled on the CD insert, but also if you put the disc into iTunes or play the song on a CD player with a digital reader, the two songs are incorrectly labeled on the disc itself.

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