ROBIN ZANDER – Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased
This one has been requested over and over again in comments for a long time: the second unreleased solo album from Cheap Trick’s frontman ROBIN ZANDER, entitled “Countryside Blvd.”
Zander’s long-gestating solo effort has a complicated release history. It was supposed to come out in 2011 but has been stalled for reasons no one seems to know.
Apparently it was for sale on iTunes for two days before the record label spontaneously removed it.
So this is a strange case of an album released, then immediately un-released.
And let me tell you, it’s a shame, because it’s a first-rate outing from the lead singer of Cheap Trick that has had fans flummoxed by its very (non) existence since it originally surfaced… before mysteriously disappearing within a few days of its debut.
First things first, however.
Don’t believe the online hype that “Countryside Blvd.” is a ‘pure country music’ album. It’s not. At least in its entirety,
Yes, it was recorded in Nashville and, yes, Robin sports a cowboy hat on the cover (but mostly to hide his receding hairline) and, yes, it does contain elements of Americana instrumentation, including fiddles, acoustic guitars and the occasional pedal steel.
But, categorizing this as country, or country-rock, completely misses the point.
When I first heard this – now a collector’s item – I found it likeable and catchy, at times influenced by big names from the American Rock history, at times from big acts from the other side of the Atlantic.
But, repeated listens quickly convinced me that “Countryside Blvd.” is a bedpost notch for Zander, with enough nuance and palate-expanding flavors to showcase his abilities and crossover appeal, without distancing himself from those looking for a Cheap retread.
The ballads (like, “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”) are smart and appropriately sentimental, while the slight country accoutrements give the proceedings a contemporary air – a valid commerciality – without succumbing to the limited demands of modern rock radio.
Again… I didn’t hear all this so clearly the first time through. It took a few spins for Countryside Blvd.‘s compositional smarts to charm me.
Not to mention Zander’s still impressive vocal strength, as the 60 year-old easily ping-pongs from raucous rockers such as “Say You Will” or the Cheap Trick-like melodic rocker “What’s Her Name” (yes, it’s a melodic rock song) to overly romantic duets (“Was I Wrong”) with aplomb.
There’s also an alternate mix of “What’s Her Name” that, apparently, was mistakenly posted as one of the withdrawn downloads.
The best song, though, on “Countryside Blvd.” is “Pamela Jean”. The first time I heard it I thought that my player had skipped, or that the album was over, and I was hearing Cheap Trick. This is Robin Zander circa 1991, with all that poppy melodic rock imprinted over it.
All in all, “Countryside Blvd.” is a really satisfying stretch for Robin Zander… that fans can’t have.
Honestly I don’t understand why this album yanked and it was not properly released until now, as it owns a wide potential for many audiences.
This would be an awesome record to take along on a long, moonlight drive. It’s a shame we all can’t go to the store and buy “Countryside Blvd.” on CD, or at least digitally.
Well, 0dayrox is here to solve it.
01 – Every Dog
02 – Walkin’ Shoes
03 – The Ballad Of Jean & Me
04 – Heart Of Glass
05 – What’s Her Name
06 – I Wonder What You’re Doing Tonight
07 – Pamela Jean
08 – Say You Will
09 – Was I Wrong
10 – Love Comes
11 – Save The Last Dance For Me
(with hidden track You Are My Sunshine)
12 – What’s Her Name (Alt. Mix) [Unofficial Bonus Track]
Not for sale