This is an incredibly different style of melodic rock from Speedway BLVD and for music listeners circa 1980 this must have seemed as foreign as the concept of the Internet.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Speedway BLVD
ALBUM: Speedway BLVD
SERIAL: NJE 36533
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Roy Herring Jnr – vocals, keyboards * Greg Hoffman – guitars * Jordan Rudess – keyboards * Dennis Feldman – bass * Glen Dove – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Speedway BLVD * 02 Chinatown * 03 (Think I Better) Hold On * 04 Dog In The Distance * 05 Out Of The Fire * 06 Telephoto Lens * 07 Prisoner Of Time * 08 Money Money * 09 Rock Magic * 10 A Boulevard Nite
This is an incredibly different style of melodic rock from Speedway BLVD and for music listeners circa 1980 this must have seemed as foreign as the concept of the Internet. Well it’s amazing how things have converged over time, and finally we get to do a review of an album which has only been spoken of in reverence by many in the AOR/melodic rock community, with most people having heard about it rather than having actually heard it.
For a comparison, Balance‘s ‘In For The Count’ is close, but Speedway BLVD’s attempts to be different really puts them in a league of their own. The guitar parts from Hoffman and the OTT keyboard runs by future keyboard king Jordan Rudess (now in Dream Theater) are amazing to say the least.
The latter varies from quirky synth parts that Zon fans would love, to the heavy analog layers Mark Mangold used to provide when he was with the band Touch. The ‘at times’ funkiness of the whole thing also brings to mind Mothers Finest circa ‘Iron Age’, another revered album which will appear on this site at some future point. Hopefully you get an idea of the picture I’m trying to create here?
On to the songs. Album opener ‘Speedway BLVD’ powers along in top gear with punchy guitar and keyboard interplay. ‘Chinatown’ has Balance written all over it, while Rudess keyboards flit from one speaker to the other while in between we have layers and parps coming through the Centre. ‘Prisoner Of Time’ has a definite quirky feel to it, though it’s not exactly new wave.
‘(Call My Name) Rock Magic’ is probably the rockiest moment on the album, and the keyboard work here is astounding, for the fact that Rudess work could quite easily have emanated from the first Dream Theater album, though this is nearly nine years earlier! On ‘Out Of The Fire’ both guitars and keyboards go off the scale, as Hoffman and Rudess try to outdo one another.
Unfortunately, Speedway BLVD was perhaps a bit too ‘off the wall’ and nothing was heard from this collective team, though Feldman went onto Balance, and Rudess as mentioned earlier is now in Dream Theater.
‘Speedway BLVD’ has finally seen the light of day on CD, through a label called Japanese Rock Reissues, though personally, I gotta say, it looks suspiciously like a bootleg to me. Would anyone like to disprove that for me please? To formalise the whole thing, the album was re-released officially through the Songhaus/Rewind family in 2002. Well done to them, though it has also seen a recent 2014 reissue thanks to Rock Candy.