Saturday, September 21, 2013


Many of you know I have a rather excessive obsession for music that has turned into a somewhat large collection.

A few years ago, in an effort to create more shel space, I undertook the project to remove the CD's from their jewel cases and place them in plastic sleeves.

I am up to the "R's" (but have spent little time on this recently).
Another project started last year was the uploading of the same collection to the cloud.

This would give me (finally) a backup in the event the physical CD's were damaged, as well as access to the collection through various internet-enabled devices (computers, cell phone, iPad/iPod) for streaming purposes.
Along the way, I am reminded of the titles I own that have not seen the light of day for some time.
In Stephen T. McCarthy’s second Battle Of The Bands post, he pits a Fleetwood Mac song against a cover by the Detroit band, The Rockets.

Today, while repackaging and uploading my CD collection, I came across albums from not one….not two…but THREE different bands calling themselves The Rockets.


These Rockets hail from Detroit, Michigan and were founded by guitarist Jimmy McCarty and drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek, both former members of the group Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.
Formed in 1972 along with slide and rhythm guitarist Dennis Robbins, bassist John Fraga, and lead vocalist David Gilbert, the Rockets reached their pinnacle of success in 1979 with a Top 40 hit, a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song "Oh Well."

Some might argue that inclusion on the FFFF blog was the high water mark, but for purposes of this post, let's assume it was the Billboard charts.

The Rockets made five studio albums producing several minor hits. Always a popular group in Detroit, and Michigan, The Rockets had gotten some attention outside of the state, but never really got the big break to become a true national act. In 1983, the band splintered and the members all went their separate ways.

Sadly, three original members (David Gilbert, Bobby Neil Haralson and John Fraga) passed away over the past decade and a half. The surviving band members  revived the band in 2010 and are reportedly working on a new album.



Another band called The Rockets was an early incarnation of Crazy Horse, the band that would back up Neil Young for decades.

The band's origins date to 1963 and the Los Angeles-based a cappella doo-wop group Danny And The Memories, which consisted of main singer Danny Whitten and supporting vocalists Lou Bisbal (soon to be replaced by Bengiamino Rocco), Billy Talbot, and Ralph Molina. The latter two would become the only members of Crazy Horse present in every incarnation of the band.

Making its way to San Francisco and back to Los Angeles again, the group evolved over the course of several years into The Rockets, a psychedelic folk hybrid comprising Whitten on guitar, Talbot on bass, Molina on drums, Bobby Notkoff on violin, and brothers Leon and George Whitsell also on guitars. This lineup recorded the Rockets' only album, a self-titled set released in 1968.

With their album complete, the Rockets reconnected with Neil Young, whom they had met two years earlier during the early days of Buffalo Springfield. In August 1968, three months after Buffalo Springfield dissolved, Young jammed with the Rockets on stage during their show at the Whisky a Go Go and soon after enlisted Whitten, Talbot, and Molina to back him on his second solo album.

Credited to Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere includes the pop hit "Cinnamon Girl" and the extended guitar workouts "Down by the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand". Crazy Horse toured with Young during the first half of 1969.

As Young spent more time with other ventures (Crosby, Stills & Nash) and gave them less of a role on his solo efforts, Crazy Horse capitalized on the exposure and recorded its eponymous debut album for Reprise Records in 1971, with  that year. The band Jack Nitzsche as producer and keyboardist, and second guitarist Nils Lofgren.



Yet a third band called the Rockets recorded an album, this band  found minor success in the burgeoning and vibrant San Francisco Bay Area club scene fronted by cocky and handsome lead singer Eddie Mahoney, rock solid drummer John Cuniberti, expressive guitarist Dan Alexander and innovative bassist Chris Solberg.
They sounded like a young Alex Chilton backed up by Free, and,  inspired by the sounds of English groups like The Move and Badfinger, they built a reputation as a great band that delivered a style unique to the Bay Area.  

The group made appearances at Los Angeles's infamous Starwood Club, worked the ski resort circuit from Lake Tahoe to Sun Valley, frequented college campuses and played the occasional concert venue but never managed to move beyond that.

Off-stage the band focused on songwriting and recording. At that time, independent recording studios were starting to emerge in the Bay Area, and in 1975 The Rockets recorded tracks for a demo tape that was submitted to CBS records, which were quickly rejected, and the band dissolved soon after.

The lead singer would later change his name to Eddie Money and open a travel agency (according to the Geico commercial). Actually, Money would be signed by CBS.

To my knowledge, no recordings were issued by this band until their demos were released by Groove House (on CD) in 2010. The label has video clips HERE.
I’ve been reliving a lot of cool musical moments while I undertake this project, and felt compelled to share this one since the Detroit band had been highlighted so recently.

What have you listened to lately?



  1. >>... Some might argue that inclusion on the FFFF blog was the high water mark, but for purposes of this post, let's assume it was the Billboard charts.

    Ha-Ha! I can think of only ONE person who might try to argue that inclusion on the F-FFF blog was the high water mark for The Rockets (the author of this comment), but he'd be an idiot to attempt it.

    I actually knew there had been a third Rockets (must've read that somewhere long ago), although I knew nuttin' about them. What a surprise to learn that it was an Eddie Money band.

    Good news: Spoke with my new boss yesterday, and it will be you, me, and Booker T. (Very cool new boss!)

    What have I listened to lately? Well, as I type these words, Spanky And Our Gang are singing 'Lazy Day'.

    I was in my truck earlier, where Pat Metheny's 'The First Circle' was playing.

    Early last night I was playing my 2-CD set 'Groovy 60s'.

    Later, between 11:30 and Midnight, the song 'Pancho And Lefty' by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and 'The House At Pooh Corner' by Loggins And Messina, in honor of my buddy Kelly "Andy" Anderson who committed suicide on 9/20/1986.

    Is that enough variety over the last 24 hours?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. McD-

      It is (enough variety)!

      I'll raise a glass of bourbon (in your name) to honor your friend's memory later tonight. I am always sad when you post in his honor-life is so precious and he had so much of it ahead of him. Also, you're my friend and I feel for you (for your loss). Very sad from every angle.

      I think the only Spanky song I know by the title is "I'd Like To Get To Know You" (or is it just "Get To Know You"?), although I would probably know others when I heard them.

      I'd forgotten the Money band-in fact, I have an extra copy of that Rockets CD and was thinking it was the Detroit band, and then got to reading the liner notes and remembered.

      I broke down and ordered "The Surfer Mass" although I may not have listened to it by the time I see you-I am going to be giving an album we have debated the merits of more than once my "treatment" (where I listen to it almost non-stop for a while) in preparation for a future blog post, as well as to get a better feel for what you hear in the album that I was missing.

      Plus I need to brush up on my Booker T! Looking forward to that show!


  2. I'm a big long-time fan of the Crazy Horse Rockets band. I first acquired the vinyl of their album in the summer of 1970. There's a story behind that acquisition that I keep thinking about relating on one of my blogs. I'll probably do it on my Wrote By Rote blog one day. I've still got my vinyl copy and have since gotten a CD copy so I could still listen to it.

    I'd love to get a CD copy of Spanky and Our Gang's album with "I'd Like to Get to Know You". I've got the vinyl record but nothing to play it on. The CD seems kind of hard to find last time I looked.

    Wrote By Rote

  3. DiscDude ~

    I'm not sure you will like 'LIVING WATER: The Surfer's Mass'. The concept I know you will appreciate, but the sound is very Beach Boys-like.

    I don't know if I ever turned you onto the following account of how the album came to be, but if not, please check out the URL below, and pay special attention to the story of how they got the proper mix for the song 'Holy, Holy' (which I really dig!) I find it very easy to believe that God really did set up that mix for them by "HIGHjacking" the tape machine:

    >>... I am going to be giving an album we have debated the merits of more than once my "treatment" (where I listen to it almost non-stop for a while) in preparation for a future blog post, as well as to get a better feel for what you hear in the album that I was missing.

    Hmmm... You have me very curious. Is that a reference to two different albums, or one and the same? Not sure what you're referring to. I remember one or more discussions where I said you were crazy for thinking 'Wishing You Were Here' was better than 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. But that's probably not it.

    Maybe 'Pet Sounds'? And the album you were missing, I purchased for you: 'Surf's Up' (which was part of a twofer including the album 'Sunflower')? I love 'Surf's Up'.

    Or maybe we're talking about 'Pet Sounds' and 'Smile'?

    I can't think of many more we debated, and many you were missing. (Sheesh! How many albums could I have known about that were missing from your collection?)

    I do remember being aghast that you did not have 'Boomtown' by David & David. (And you purchased it shortly after my outburst. Ha!) I also remember saying that you should have 'Not Shy' by Walter Egan in your collection. (You got that one later, too.)

    The only other album I can recall being shocked to learn it was not in your collection already was 'Songs In The Key Of Life' by Stevie Wonder (but I'm pretty sure that's not the album you're alluding to).

    Unless one of my guesses above was on the money, I have no idea what you have in mind. I'm looking forward to finding out though, and also looking forward to Booker T & The Green Onions.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    POSTSCRIPT: If the 'Pet Sounds' part of this equation was accurate, be aware that my three favorite tracks are 'Caroline No', and the two instrumentals, 'Pet Sounds' and 'Let's Go Away For Awhile' - the latter one is simply... stunning! Full of bittersweet melancholia and sun-drenched days of my innocent Orange County boyhood. I couldn't begin to guess how he captured it, unless Brian Wilson was spying on me as I played "Cowboys & Indians" on those Westminster sidewalks.

    1. I'm keeping mum until I post...

      For the record, I have had "Songs In The Key Of Life" on vinyl since high school. Not sure when I got it on CD, but obviously in the last twelve years or so if you remember me not having it.

  4. Admittedly, I didn't know about any of these Rockets until F-FFF's BotB. As for me, I'm still listening to Indie rock to retain my cred as an angry hipster. It's the only way I can justify listening to current music, as the stuff they play on the radio is drivel.

    Who/what I'm listening to right now:
    Sondre Lerche

    The Kooks

    1. Bryan-

      While I tend to just listen to it if I like it (at my age, I worry less about cred and more about early-onset dementia), I have to agree with your take on radio.

      I lost interest in radio towards the end of the seventies, when it became a business and the disc jockeys, who used to be personalities who played according to their taste and often were the reason a band broke (Springsteen owes a huge debt to Ed Sciacky in Philadelphia-RIP, Ed), suddenly became employees who played from a playlist.

      I had a lady get all over my case because I said that variety is popular music went away after the mid-seventies, but I stand by that statement.

      I am not saying no music was good after then. It just became a business, and music became "product."

      I've listened to sound clips of Sondra but it did not grab me-love The Kooks-have all three of their albums.

      I'm not sure I was even hip back in the I just worry about breaking mine.


  5. Not familiar with the band.
    Almost all of my music I now purchase through iTunes. It's a rare release that I have to own the actual CD. (Like Dream Theater!) Even so, we own over a thousand CDs and the case they occupy fills over half a wall...

    1. Alex- As I've said a million times, I like the physical disc (still listen to a lot through a component stero and have not found a great solution for streaming music although I know there are solutions out there).

      You may want to keep an eye on Amazon-they run a lot of specials that get digital albums down under five bucks...