All for the Love of Rock 'N' Roll

by: Robert Gordon

Robert Gordon was one of the prime movers and shakers of the rockabilly revival in the 1970s and '80s, embracing a retro look and sound long before it was fashionable (or even profitable), but before cutting his first solo album, Gordon sang with the early New York punk band Tuff Darts, and All for the Love of Rock ‘N' Roll offers a glimpse into what Gordon's music might have been like if he hadn't turned hepcat in 1977. 1994's All for the Love of Rock ‘N' Roll is dominated by hard rock and proto-punk tunes, with Gordon's former Tuff Darts bandmate Jeff Salen playing lead guitar on five tracks (he also wrote four songs), as Gordon's frequent guitar foil Chris Spedding showed off a darker and grittier sound on tunes like "Prove It" and "Middle of the Night." That's not to say Gordon fully abandoned his rockabilly side on this album; "I Found You" clearly has its roots in vintage rock even if it hits harder than usual for Gordon, and the cover of Jack Scott's "Goodbye Baby" is a sweet bit of hillbilly bop with some fine, understated guitar work from Danny Gatton. But it's songs like "Attacked, Seduced and Abandoned," "Prove It," and "All for the Love Of Rock ‘n' Roll" that best typify the album's approach, with big guitars, booming drums, and arena-sized thunder; Gordon sounds committed, but the truth is, he sounds best on the rockabilly-leaning material and the slower, more ominous numbers like "You Stepped in It Now" than he does on the more explicit gestures toward hard rock, where his vocals feel clumsy and off kilter despite all their bluster. Robert Gordon is a good enough singer that he could have easily moved away from rockabilly toward something else and sounded commanding, but All for the Love of Rock ‘N' Roll doesn't play to the man's strengths, even though just enough of it works to suggest a bluesier variation on this stuff might be just the thing for him. ~ Mark Deming

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