The Sidewinders were a Boston based band better known as popsters, but with an eccentricity that included 60’s pop and surf punk among other things.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: The Sidewinders
ALBUM: The Sidewinders
INFO: Discogs Info
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Andy Paley – vocals * Mike Reed – guitar * Eric Rosenfeld – guitar * Leigh Lisowski – bass * Henry Stern – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Bad Dreams * 02 Superhit * 03 Moonshine * 04 The Bumble Bee * 05 Told You So * 06 Rendezvous * 07 O Miss Mary * 08 Got You Down * 09 Slip Away * 10 Reputation * 11 Parade
Boston based band The Sidewinders are long known as popsters back in the early 70’s with a connection to Billy Squier, though that link wasn’t until late in the piece. Originally called Catfish Black, the earliest incarnation had the band starting off life in Maine, before members moved south to attend University.
The Boston pop scene was undergoing a transition during the late 60’s and early 70’s, and Catfish Black who eventually morphed into The Sidewinders were a part of that. Signed to RCA, I don’t have any personal recollection of this band during the 1972 year, so I come to The Sidewinders very much a novice on their one and only album.
It’s a twangy style of pop that’s let loose initially on ‘Bad Dreams’. It’s catchy and energetic though only gets to this level occasionally throughout the LP. ‘Superhit’ shapeshifts on a moving bed of bass rumbling from Leigh Lisowski, though their sound is tempered by the gentle pop of ‘Moonshine’. ‘The Bumble Bee’ is a surf-punk instrumental, while ‘Told You So’ could be power-pop before the term was invented! The acoustic guitar ballad ‘Rendezvous’ is simple and understated but the chorus lifts it a few notches.
I liked the energy of ‘O Miss Mary’, it takes us back to the previous decade as a 60’s inspired rocker. Again, the fluid bass work from Lisowski is a feature on ‘Got You Down’, this track picks up pace the further we move along. ‘Slip Away’ operates at half-pace, a ‘kind of’ ballad though the stinging guitar solo makes it less so. ‘Reputation’ is a fun rocker, and the mid-section/solo is very cool. The LP finishes with ‘Parade’ with harmony vocals in full voice amid the melodic pop.
The album apparently scored good reviews in the mags of the day, but in an era where promotion via radio and LP sales was paramount, The Sidewinders had none of these. It wasn’t long before the cracks started appearing, Mike Reed and Henry Stern departed not long after the LP release, with Bryan Chase and Larry Luddecke hooking on.
Somewhere along the line, Billy Squier joined on as the guitar replacement, but it’s not clear when. However the cracks got bigger until eventually everyone went their separate ways. Paley would form the Paley Brothers, Eric Rosenfeld became Eric Rose and was a prominent guitarist in the Boston scene. Squier went on to Piper and a huge solo career.