The rumble of the drums. The charring riffs of glaring electric guitars. Keyboards that scream out in passion, as if to ask us questions that no voice could ever utter. Songs like “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” “I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” “There’s No Surf in Cleveland” and “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” are at the heart and soul of Cleveland International Records’ elite discography that spanned some of the most important decades in the history of American pop music, and they’re only a handful of the tracks that comprise Cleveland Rocks. Cleveland Rocks was, and continues to be, one of the most formidable compilations released in the last five decades by an independent record label, and with the revival of Cleveland International Records after a decade-long absence, the comp is getting the reissue that we were all hoping to see one day. In thirteen songs that include hits from Meat Loaf, Ian Hunter, Mike Berry, Essence, The Boyzz, Just Us Girls, Ellen Foley and Jim Steinman just to name a few, audiences get to experience the original Cleveland sound as it was always meant to be heard – in high definition stereo sound.
You would think that highly stylized songs like Iron City Houserocker’s “Have a Good Time But Get Out Alive,” Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” and Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes’ “I Don’t Want to Go Home” wouldn’t have aged as well as more straightforward songs from the same timeframes have, but that just isn’t the case. When I listen to Cleveland Rocks, I hear so many influences that helped to shape the sound of today’s FM dial; whether it be the sly grooves that mark “Sweet Fools” with a refined pop sensibility, or the indulgent attitudes that give “We Belong to the Night” its emotive depth, it’s hard for me to picture the bulk of 2019’s surreal R&B, rock, pop and even hip-hop, without the cratering impact that these songs have made on our culture. Dedicated to the one and only Steve Popovich, Sr., Cleveland Rocks is just as much of a jewel today as it was so many years ago, if not a far more valuable one given the significant time that has passed and subsequent legacies that have been formed in its wake.
Sublimely fluid and diversely arranged as to give listeners the most exciting experience that thirteen classic songs can afford us, you really can’t go wrong with this compilation. Fans of all genres, styles and periods throughout American music history stand to learn a lot from what artists like Ronnie Spector & the E-Street Band, the Euclid Beach Band, Essence and The Rovers have to share with us in these timeless tracks, and though there’s no getting around the fact that pop music has evolved almost immeasurably in the last forty years, it says a lot that these songs still resonate with contemporary life and culture as much as they do, both in a lyrical and musical sense. Hopefully this will usher in an even more influential era for Cleveland International Records, and furthermore, American pop as a whole.
Donate to IndiePulse Music Magazine’s Academic and Music Education Scholarship Program HeartBeat4Kids
IndiePulse Music Magazine creates Scholarships to help Youth In Need of assistance to complete their educational goals and stay in school.