In the late 70s, singer/bassist Roger C. Reale pulled together an impressive power trio featuring G.E. Smith on guitar and drummer Hilly Michaels. The band, dubbed Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue, would release their lone LP, Radio Active, in 1978. Amping up the guitars on the follow up, they brought in Mick Ronson (David Bowie, Ian Hunter) and Jimmy McAllister (Sparks), two of the best guitarists going at the time.
But, thanks to a mediocre commercial showing with that debut, despite critical raves, the label had little appetite for releasing their second album, Reptiles In Motion, even though it had already been recorded. Flash forward four decades, and Reale finally gets ownership back of his own material and has found a home for those orphaned songs. Under the title The Collection, Reale is re-releasing the debut alongside that long-abandoned follow up.
The Collection is a perfect time capsule of rock music in the late 1970s, when punk was still emerging and meshed perfectly with the straight-ahead rock at the time. There is a nice gritty New York Dolls vibe to Reale’s vocals, and the guitars sound beautifully menacing. Of the two, the second album, with the additional power of Ronson and McAllsiter, is the more satisfying record, showing a lot more depth to the music.
Songs like “Radioactve” (ironically the name of their debut, but not a song until the second record) and the poppier “One More Try” and “Make It be Over” sound incredible even 40 years later. It’s yet another near-tragic example of commercial response (nearly) killing a great record. Thankfully, Reale was finally able to rescue it.