The Roots of Heavy Metal, Vol. 2: Road
As you would have guessed, I am not one of those people.
Who knows what illusions of grandeur danced in the heads of the folks who ran Natural Resources – a very sub-subsidiary of Motown Records – when they put Noel Redding (bass player of the Jimi Hendrix Experience), Rod Richards (guitarist for Caucasian funkateers Rare Earth) and Stray Dog drummer Leslie Sampson into the studio. Perhaps they envisioned a successful supergroup along the lines of Blind Faith or Crosby Stills, Nash & Young. Sadly, that was not the circumstance.
The sole LP released by Road was both a critical and financial turkey at the time of its release. Rock writers railed on Richards for trying to resurrect the spirit of Hendrix with the excessive use of his wah-wah pedal and bashed Redding for what they considered his lack of songwriting skills. Once the word got out, copies of the record still in the factory shrink wrap were dollar bin fodder in stores for years to come.
Far away from the harsh words of yesterday's journalists, the record can now be acknowledged as one of the many seeds planted in the early 70's that spawned the dark, menacing sound and vibe of what would be known as Metal in a few years. One earful of the bludgeoning title track alone should prove this slab's worthiness into the heaviness hall of fame.
Screw all those James Taylor-loving critics of the '70s. Let's make up for their mistakes by admiring the fury of Road's lone release in the here and now with much fervor.
Tony Rettman is a freelance music journalist whose work has appeared in The Village Voice, Vice, Philadelphia Weekly, Arthur, Swindle, Signal to Noise and Mean. His 2010 book, Why Be Something That You're Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985, is a must-read for any fan of heavy music and can be purchased on Amazon.