Classic Rock Bottom


In the start of the 80's, I loved going through new albums at record-stores, to see, if there were any cool new albums, and in 1982, I saw an album by a band called STRANGER. It was a cool cover, the band had long hair, so I listened to 1 or two songs, and bought the album. It never became a favorite-album of mine, but still, it was a pretty good melodic Heavy Rock-album. I don't think, the band is very wellknown around here? Let's have some fun:Stranger was formed in Florida, USA, during 1981 by Greg Billings (vocals), Ronnie Garvin (guitar), Tom (King) Cardenas (bass) and John Price (drums).Named "Lynxx" and then "Romeo" before settling on Stranger, the band was discovered by record producer Tom Werman (Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent & Mötley Crüe among others) and recorded their first nationally released album shortly after being signed to Epic Records/CBS Records in 1981, but received little record company support, promotion or publicity. Their self titled first album contained the track "Swamp Woman" which arguably remains their most well known song which, along with the opening track "Jackie's So Bad," received moderate airplay on Florida radio and other markets throughout the U.S. The band toured the southeast and became the biggest drawing circuit club band ever. Stranger also opened shows nationally for Triumph, Quiet Riot, UFO, Skid Row, Aldo Nova, Eddie Money and many other big name acts of the time.The group was paid to cease-and-desist while recording their second album for Epic, which was par for the course with many rock acts in the early '80s when pop, new wave and post-punk were the darlings of the record companies before hair-metal rock grabbed a foothold; a classic case of the right place at the wrong time.During the interim period between the contract with Epic and their self produced and released second album No Rules, Stranger toured heavily throughout Florida. Stranger was "a Florida band" and gained a fanatical following throughout Florida. Fans became familiar with the songs on the second album long before its release. Other support and respect would come from the musicians who played with the band. In 1983, touring with Aldo Nova and UFO on the west coast for about five weeks, the rock acts Tesla and Kings X both saw the group and both bands became fans. Tesla actually covered a Stranger song "Jackie's So Bad" in their early days.Strong songwriting and better production values than their first release, No Rules contained the tracks "Gimmie The Rock," "Mama Mama," "Wrong Side of the Tracks," "We Were Wrong," "Swamp Woman," "Autumn Time Again," "No Rules," "Hit and Run," "3-D," "One More Night," "Alligator Joe" and "Thunder Bay." Stranger was a respected musical force during its time, often associated with more nationally known names such as Pat Travers, Molly Hatchet, Mother's Finest (which they would play at the opening of their live shows) and fellow Tampa band Outlaws.Stranger was endorsed by Peavey Electronics, and developed a loyalty to Tampa music store Paragon. Bassist Tom King played Peavey foundation basses, including a "Gator Bass" designed to honor the University of Florida Gator football team through Peavey Megabass amplifiers. After the Peavey endorsement, guitarist Ronnie Garvin played Peavey VTM 120 amps and speaker cabinets live. John Price was endorsed by REMO Drums and received many shipments of drums and accessories from REMO. Ronnie and Tom were also endorsed by Dean Markley Strings, and the band was also endorsed by Viking Cases.At the end of the decade, they were offered a new deal with Atlantic Records, but refused it after seeing the same dubious contract clauses and pending pitfalls they experienced with their previous contract. Also their previous manager helped put a monkey-wrench in the deal by declaring he still had ownership of management indirectly from the previous contract. Failure to find a major label deal didn't faze them much as the band release a series of self-distributed LP/EP releases on their own Thunderbay label and produced their own videos over a span of 15 years.Their next album, No More Dirty Deals, was probably the best mixed album. This album contains the tracks "Let Me Rock 'n Roll," "She's A Dancer," "(This Time) Gonna Love You Baby," "I Know I Tried," "Okeechobee Whiskey," "Runnin In the Red," "No More Dirty Deals," "End of the Line," "Can't Keep a Good Man Down," "Long Gone," a Dedication to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stranger followed No More Dirty Deals with a live album We Be Live, the first album since their first not to contain Randy Holt on keyboards. This album contains the tracks "Intro/Bad Bad Day," "Get On Up," "Mama Mama," "Face To Face," "Shakedown," "She's A Dancer," "Okeechobee Whiskey," "Clear Blue Morning," "Wrong Side of the Tracks," "I Bark But I Don't Bite," "Gonna Love You Baby," "Play Somethin Good (Somethin I Can Dance To)," "Thunder Bay," "Dedication to Stevie Ray" and "Swamp Woman." Their final album, Angry Dogs, contained the tracks "Take Your Best Shot," "Red Light," "Girl That Bad (Should Never Look So Good)," "I'm The Man You're Looking For," "Play Somethin Good (Something I Can Dance To)," "Poke Salad," "She Just Can't Get Enough," "Never Look Back," "Clear Blue Morning," "Kid Gone Bad" and "#1 With A Bullet." The Stranger catalog has been re-released on retrospect records.The fact that the band was able to survive and thrive for what was essentially a self-promoted local/regional club band at that time was no small feat prior to advent of the Internet.Lead singer Greg Billings and Bassist Tom King are still performing together regularly under the name "Greg Billings Band".Discography:1982 - Stranger - Epic/Sony Music1989 - No Rules - Thunder Bay1991 - No More Dirty Deals Thunder Bay1993 - We Be Live - Thunder Bay1995 - Angry Dogs - Thunder Bay


This song appeared on "my" album, meaning their debut-album from 1982.


This one as well.


Not this one.


Or this one.


And not this one...SHAKEDOWN (LIVE 1995)

...but this one did!!

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I'll listen at some point this week, but I've gotta tell you, they are already on my bad side due to the "gator bass" tidbit above.  The Florida Gators blow and that's that.

Something unheard of an 100% new - kewl!!! Just an FYI, Ive got no gator issues, in fact I have family in the Jacksonville FL area and a boss who's a Florida State nut, so its kinda fun to sit back and listen to the two go at it...

JACKIES SO BAD ...  Is she as bad as their sound board guy?  If so I'd like to meet her  ...  All kidding aside, the song is short and that's a good thing to, because it had little to no substance whatsoever.  No interesting guitars, bad drum fills, and awful keyboards.  So that mean there's no where to go but up!!

SWAMP WOMAN ...  Forget Jackie!  I want to meet one of those Swamp Women!!  Decent riff...  Nice beat, but still a very minimalist guitar solo?  Weird.

OKEECHOBEE WHISKEY ...  Easy to see this band motives! Cant say I blame them.  And finally a guitar solo.  Best song so far, by a long ways!

HIT AND RUN ... Nice tune, but heres the rub.  They fit into the scene but don't rise out of the crowd.  This is your standard 80's rock.  I would give them a slight edge in picking nice looking women for their videos, but the guitar work isn't great and the riffs are starting to sound similar.

3-D and SHAKEDOWN ... See my note on Hit and Run.  The riffs are very similar all the way through as well as the beats and lets throw in the chorus's as well.

No idea why this type of band would be known to you in Europe and totally unknown here in their home country.  I think the music scene by the time they arrived may have simply been over saturated and these guys didn't really offer anything new.  I too bought many an album just because of the cover, so much like you I studied album art work as well.  So had I ran across this band and their album covers were in slight least interesting I would have checked it out.  So one of two things happened, either there albums never hit my favorite record store or we have different taste in album cover art   Fun post none-the-less!  At least they put NIN to shame!

Jackie - Killer orange sweatpants.  And are those shorts he's wearing over them.  Don't remember this song (or band) for that matter.  Can't say it's the worst thing I've ever heard.  Kind of Bon Jovi"ish".  Have I said enough?

Swamp Woman - This song is so typical of this time period.  The guitar solo is pretty good, and I always enjoy watching dancing girls, but this song is not good.  

Whiskey - It would really amaze me if you said you even remotely like this band.  You always complain about mine and Scott's love of AOR, but this is beyond cheesy.  At this point, I'm trying to decide if this week or last week's post is better or worse.  This song is way cheesy.

Hit And Run - I'm in no way saying this is good, but it is better than all of the other tracks to this point.  Again, it's typical "hair metal", and they have plenty of hair.  At least this one is listenable.  I could have liked this back in the day.

3-D - Now this is good melodic rock.  Nice hook, nice guitar solo, though not spectacular.  The obligatory keyboard breakdown.  Easily the best song ever by Stranger.

Shakedown - Just when they were sounding decent, you posted this.  Mess.  Not good.

Niels, I applaud you for stepping outside of your comfort zone.  I'm not sure whether or not you like this band, but it's okay if you don't.  You don't have to always like what you post.  I don't always like the AOTW I post...

Yep, I forgot to conclude that Strange>NIN...

In case you haven't noticed (), the purpose of "this round" of VOTW are presenting bands/artists that at some point in my life had some meaning to me (and in most cases, I have a feeling that you and Scott knows the bands, but then again not really), and in Stranger's case, I got that album because the album-cover was cool, and even though it was AOR'ish kind of music (hey, I never said, I never liked AOR, and I did at some point in the 80's), I liked the album, and I thought it was kind of funny, that nobody else ever seemed to know about this band (except for that dude, I can't remember his name, who got a bit pissed off at everyone around here a few years back. He said he knew the guitarist, it was his neigbour or something).

It should be clear around now, that what I may have liked in 1982, doesn't necesarily means, that I like it know. Only the memory of it, perhaps.

Even my wife have trouble finding out, what I like. The other day she said "You don't usually listen to that kind of music". So what? It's what I like to listen to right now.

All said in a happy tone :-)


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