Chilliwack - Rockerbox

Chilliwack – Rockerbox

84 / 100

Chilliwack deliver a startlingly good album and so untypical of their style, only 1980’s ‘Breakdown In Paradise’ would unseat ‘Rockerbox’ in my mind as the best Chilliwack ever put to tape.

Written by: Eric

ARTIST: Chilliwack
ALBUM: Rockerbox
LABEL: Sire, Casino
SERIAL: SASD-7511, CA1006
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
YEAR: 1975

LINEUP: Bill Henderson – lead vocals, guitar * Howard Froese – guitar, backing vocals * Glenn Miller – bass, backing vocals * Ross Turney – drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 If You Want My Love * 02 I Know, You Know * 03 When You Gonna Tell The Truth * 04 Train’s A Comin’ Back * 05 Marianne * 06 Treat Me Fine, Treat Me Good * 07 Magnolia * 08 Last Day Of December



From what I’ve read, this was Chilliwack’s least successful album. The reasons for this are unclear although we could point a limp finger at the group’s Canadian label – Casino Records. For those who don’t know, Casino was originally called Goldfish Records based in suburban Vancouver.

It was originally co-owned by Terry Jacks oh-he of ‘Seasons In The Sun’ infamy and the other half of The Poppy Family with sister Susan Jacks who also had a moderately successful solo career in Canada. At any rate, Terry Jacks produced Chilliwack’s previous album 1974’s ‘Riding High’ and around the same time sold off his shares of Goldfish to another individual who changed the label name to Casino.

My guess is, there wasn’t a whole lot of capital floating around the Casino offices by the time ‘Rockerbox’ saw release, since no singles were pulled from the record, unlike ‘Riding High’ which spawned the Canadian top 10 hit ‘Crazy Talk’. On the other hand, the group’s U.S label Sire did nothing with the album either, other than giving the album new cover art which is really a shame since ‘Rockerbox’ is Chilliwack’s first solid rock album.

The Songs

The problem I have with the previous Chilliwack records, including ‘Riding High’ was their lack of direction moving from blues and dirge-like progressive rock on the first couple albums to a run-of-the-mill low rent version of The Stampeders. On ‘Rockerbox’ those influences are thankfully cast aside in favor of straight ahead dynamic rock ‘n’ roll Canadian style.

A song like ‘If You Want My Love’ and I Know, You Know’ should have given April Wine and BTO a run for their money on Canadian charts from Red Deer to Thunder Bay, while ‘When You Gonna Tell the Truth’ and ‘Train’s A Comin’ Back’ have a definite Southern rock vibe. In fact come to think of it, most of the album dips more into the Mason-Dixon than the Great White North sound-wise especially on ‘Marianne’ with its BTO meets Lynyrd Skynyrd chugga-lugga guitar riffs.

I’ll give ’em a pass-mark, nicking a little Deep Purple with ‘Treat Me Fine, Treat Me Good’ and almost sounding like Nazareth on album closer ‘Last Day Of December’. This is such a startlingly good album and so untypical of their style, only 1979’s ‘Breakdown In Paradise’ would unseat ‘Rockerbox’ in my mind as the best Chilliwack ever put to tape.

In Summary

Of course Chilliwack would finally strike gold on both sides of the border with a very different line-up on 1981’s ‘Wanna Be A Star’ and as good as that album is, get a copy of ‘Rockerbox’ and be prepared to be impressed.


Entire Album (Select Tracks)

Playlist: Chilliwack - Rockerbox [full album] 1975
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