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19 May 2010 @ 06:10 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #81: REO Speedwagon "Love in the Future"  
REO Speedwagon “Love in the Future”


You think you know REO, but click on this and turn up as loud as you can.

I cannot bathe you in a river gone black
I cannot hold you in a poison rain
If I can't see you through the air that we breathe
What will love in the future be?


Kevin Cronin’s voice oozes with lushness, an REO trademark, as Neal Dougherty’s piano sets the tone. But enter Bryan Hitt’s thundering drums, Bruce Hall provides the bottom end, and watch out for the mighty Dave Amato!

Arguably the best REO tracks are “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” or “Golden Country,” “Son of a Poor Man,” or even “Don’t Let Him Go,” but they have continued rockin’ through the ‘90s to the present day. With studio albums few and far between since the departure of Gary Richrath and Alan Gratzer in 1988, the same line-up has been touring together for 20 years. They’ve been giving a ton of tags and genre descriptions over the years, but all I know is that when I was hearing them for the first time in 1982-83, rocking out the ‘70s classics, they delivered some great music that moved me. Kevin Cronin has always called their songs folk songs with loud guitars and that’s really what they are. I grew up on the MTV early staples taken from the 1981 tour of Hi Infidelity and I can still remember the chill that ran up and down my spine when the ball of orange hair (aka Richrath) slid his pick down the neck of his Les Paul as the solo for “Keep on Loving You” started (what a brilliant short little solo).

Back then it was all about Richrath for me, heck I didn’t know there were lyrics and verses to “Keep On Loving You.” It was all about those 45 seconds of Richrath guitar work. Before I saw them for the first time at SUNY Oneonta in March 1991 my brother made me a cassette of The Earth, A Small Man, His Dog & a Chicken to prepare me – this was their 1989 album that was released and died. I really got into it and hearing anything from it always transports me back to the Spring of 1991 or when I look at my autographed and framed LP cover. I ended up working my way to the front row (GA show) directly in front of the new guitarist Dave Amato and was blown away by how easy he made it seem. I told him what an impression he made years later when I met him in Bloomsburg, PA.

That’s what I love most about this track, “Love in the Future,” the Amato-factor. Dave’s searing and emotive guitar-work up the intensity and the urgency put forth in the lyrics. The middle solo is a bit frenzied (I love how he holds the last note which carries until the 2nd line of the next chorus), while the outro solo is almost angry and turns into emotive shredding. What’s not to love about the classic REO vocal harmonies and the Mother Earth friendly lyrics as well. In the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the lyrics “I cannot bathe in a river gone black” are especially poignant. And this was written in 1988-89, well before the wave of environmental songs of the mid-90s.

Take a listen, turn it up loud and tell me you don’t love this track. You just can’t do it.

Love In The Future
I cannot bathe you in a river gone black
I cannot hold you in a poison rain
If I can't see you through the air that we breathe
What will love in the future be?

I wanna watch my children laugh as they run
I wanna hold their children on my knee
And tell them stories of a vanishing sun
Of how it used to be

In my lover's life I want to share
I want to see the world now through her eyes
And about everything she sees, I care
The time has come to rise

I cannot bathe you in a river gone black
I cannot hold you in a poison rain
If I can't see you through the air that we breathe
What will love in the future be?
Will we make it a different story?
Is there love in the future for you and me?

We're looking for answers in outer space
When will we discover the earth is a sacred place?

Words & Music Kevin Cronin & Tom Kelly

More REO:
Golden Country (live) - rockin’ at their hardest (wah-wah galore)
Son of a Poor Man (live)
Ridin’ the Storm Out (live)
Take it On the Run (live acoustic) – listen to those harmonies