Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1972-74)

- Gene Cornish -- rhythm guitar

- Dino Danelli -- drums, percussion

- Billy Hocher -- lead vocals, bass

- Eric Thorngen -- lead guitar

- John Turi -- vocals, keyboards, sax




- Blue Angel (John Turi)

- The Epitome (Billy Hocher)

- Fotomaker (Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli) 

- G.C. Dangerous (Gene Cornish)

- Hocher (Billy Hocher)

- The Hochers (Billy Hocher)

- Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul (Dino Danelli)

- Pepper (Billy Hocher, Eric Thorngen, and John Turi)

- The Rascals (Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli) 

- The Young Rascals  (Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli) 





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Bulldog

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL7 5370

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1029

Price: $20.00


In spite of some impressive credentials, the band Bulldog is all but forgotten today.   The band actually traces its roots to the painful collapse of The Rascals.  Rhythm guitarist Gene Cornish had quit The Rascals in 1970, while drummer Dino Danelli managed to hold on until the band's final break-up in 1972.  At that point in time the pair decided to resume their musical partnership, quickly recruiting former The Epitome singer/bassist Billy Hocher, lead guitarist Eric Thorngen, and keyboardist John Turi.   


LP back cover photo


Billed as Bulldog, the band's Rascals roots certainly helped them score a contract with Decca.  Co-produced by Cornish and Danelli, 1972's cleverly-titled "Bulldog"  may have spotlighted the band's Rascals connection, but from a practical standpoint it served to showcase Hiocher and Turi.  The pair were responsible for writing the majority of the album's ten tracks (there were two covers).  In contrast, neither Cornish, nor Danelli contributed any material.   In addition Hocher handled most of the lead vocals.   And that might be the make-or-break factor for some listeners.   Musically the album found the band running though a mixture of genres including pop (the single 'No'), conventional rock ('Juicin' with Lucy'), and  country-blues ('Have a Nice Day').   The performances were all professional and occasionally even better - check out the single 'No'.  So back to Hocher.  As lead singer he had a voice that could be best described as soulful.  Seriously soulful in the way you were left wondering how a skinny 20 something white guy could sound like a 60 year blues guy.  The less charitable listener might describe his voice as ravaged.   When he didn't kick into overdrive and simply try to scream his way through a song, Hocher was quite impressive, showing an ability to handle everything from country-blues to Faces-styled hard rock ('Juicin' with Lucy').   When he went "heavy" the results quickly turned to aural sludge.   For better or worse, Hocher's voice remains the one feature that sticks with you after the album's finished.    Great LP ?  Nope.  Not by a mile, but there was definitely some potential here.


"Bulldog" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rockin' Robin  (Jimmie Thomas) - 2:42

I can remember wondering why anyone would start an album with a cover of the oldie 'Rockin' Robin' and after all these years I'm still puzzled.   Mind you, their rocked-up version wasn't bad, serving as a nice showcase for Hocher's ravaged voice, but it just wasn't the most impressive way to start and album.  rating: *** stars

2.) No  (Billy Hocher - John Turi) - 2:34

I can see where Hocher's weathered, beaten voice was an acquired taste, but the slinky 'No' served to showcase his best qualities - imagine a cross between Joe Cocker and Leon Russell and you'd have a feel for the sound.   Probably the album's most commercially viable track, the song was tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

3.) Juicin' with Lucy  (Billy Hocher - John Turi) -2:33

Imagine an American version of Rood Stewart and the Faces and you'd have a feel for the boozy 'Juicin' with Lucy'.    Great bar band tune that showed these guys were more than a pop band.   rating: **** stars

4.) Don't Blame It On Me  (Billy Hocher) - 2:27

Just as 'No' showcased the best aspects of Hocher's growling voice, the blues-tinged country tune 'Don't Blame It On Me' managed to underscore the man at his most irritating.   This time out he came off as almost comical; over-singing and trying to scream his way through what could have been a really good tune.   Nice acoustic slide guitar courtesy of Eric Thorngen.  rating: ** stars

5.) You Underlined My Life  (Billy Hocher - John Turi) - 3:35

Every album seemingly needs a big, commercial ballad and the keyboard powered 'You Underlined My Life' served that purpose on "Bulldog".    That's not to say this one was particularly original, or enjoyable.   rating: ** stars


(side 2)
1.) Have a Nice Day
  (Billy Hocher) - 3:48

Nice country-tinged blues number with I've always taken to be a subtle anti-war lyric, that would have been even better had Hocher hit the subtle button rather than trying to over-emote his way through the song.   Still, it was one of the more memorable performances.   rating: **** stars

2.) Too Much Monkey Business   (Chuck Berry) - 3:24

Chuck Berry's classic 'Too Much Business' served as the album's second cover tune.  With keyboardist Turi handling the lead vocal (I actually liked his dry delivery), the song was given a nice, bar band rockin' arrangement.   Imagine the late Root Boy Slim playing it straight.  rating: *** stars

3.) Parting People Should Be Good Friends   (Billy Hocher - John Turi - Eric Thorngren) - 2:58

Lightening up the sound, 'Parting People Should Be Good Friends' found the band returning to a Brit-pop sound.   The melody's always reminded me a bit of a  decent Three Dog Night tune.    Personally, I thought there were simply way to many la-la-la-la refrains in the tune.   rating: *** stars

4.) Good Times Are a Comin' (Billy Hocher - John Turi) - 3:14

This one found the band seemingly trotting out their best Joe Cocker impersonations.   Not a bad mid-tempo performance, but again, was ultimately stymied by trying too hard.   rating: *** stars

5.) I'm a Madman  (Billy Hocher - John Turi - Eric Thorngren) - 3:08

The album ended with another slice of rollicking Faces-styled rock.   Conventional, but probably sounded far better after a couple of beers.   rating: *** stars


As mentioned, the album spun off a pair of singles in the form of:




- 1972's 'No' b/w 'Good Times Are Comin'' (Decca catalog number 32996)

- 1973's  'I Am a Mad Man' b/w 'I Tip My Hat (MCA catalog MCA 73653





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Smasher

Company: Buddah

Catalog: BDS 5600

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: embossed cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2573

Price: $20.00


Dropped by Decca after their self-titled 1972 debut tanked, following a year break Bulldog reappeared in the marketplace with a contract on Neil Bogart's Buddah Records.   Like the debut, 1974's "Smasher" was co-produced by former Rascals Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli.  Similar to the debut, in various combinations singer/bassist Billy Hocher, lead guitarist Eric Thorngen and keyboardist John Turi were responsible for most of the material.  While other folks may disagree, to my ears musically this set sounded quite different from the debut.   The most obvious difference came in the fact Hocher's vocal excesses were paired way back.   He still had one of the most soulful voices you've ever heard, but surrounded by fuller production  and a new focus on pop oriented tunes, this wasn't "Bulldog, Part 2".   Sanding the edges off their original sound was a mixed blessing.  The set was certainly more conventional and commercial, but whatever unique sound they had was also scrubbed away, leaving them as a fairly conventional AOR band.  Interestingly a couple of the tunes had previously been released as non-LP singles while the band were still signed to Decca/MCA.   Kind of hard to say a great deal about this one.  You've heard better.  You've hear worse.   Yeah, there were a couple of nice performances here - their version of 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man' was one of the best Chuck Berry covers I've ever heard and 'Are You Really Happy Together' was a decent enough single, but for the most part this was pretty pedestrian.    For what its worth, as shown in the liner notes, the side two track listing was out of sequence.   The review comments put the songs in the actual playing order.


"Smasher" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Flamengo   (Billy Hocher - Eric Thorngren) - 4:16

Starting off an album with a soft, wispy ballad like 'Flamego' was an interesting decision.   Not sure it was entirely successful, but with Billy Hocher and John Turi sharing lead vocals, it aptly displayed the band's knack for nice harmony vocals, if not the most original composition you've ever heard.   rating: *** stars

2.) Are You Really Happy Together   (Billy Hocher - John Turi - Eric Thorngren) - 2:44

'Are You Really Happy Together' had actually been recorded and released as a single while the band were still signed to Decca/MCA.  Once it got going the track sounded a bit like Tom Jones trying out a rock ballad.   Strange, if not altogether unappealing with Thorngen turning in a nice guitar solo.  Shame it faded out just as the song was starting to generate some real heat.   rating: *** stars

3.) Honeymoon Couple   (Billy Hocher - Eric Thorngren) - 2:21

Pretty, largely acoustic ballad that had some radio potential.   rating: *** stars

4.) Bad Bad Girl   (Billy Hocher - Eric Thorngren) - 2:17

Kicked along by a burping mini Moog (?), 'Bad Bad Girl' sported a reggae-flavored melody and some easy-going, breezy vocals.  Nah, there wasn't a single original thought or note on this one, but it was still mindless fun which probably explains why Buddah tapped it as a single.   rating: *** stars

5.) Brown Eyed Handsome Man   (Chuck Berry) - 2:45

As on the debut, the band included a Chuck Berry cover. Personally I wouldn't have expected much from it, but shame on me, since their Bob Seger-styled cover was one of the album highlights.   With Hocher trotting out his best Seger immitation, the band kicked butt on this tune.   Easily the album's standout performance and should have been released as an American single.   rating: ***** stars


(side 2)

1.) I Tried To Sleep  (Billy Hocher - Eric Thorngren) - 4:08

Nice, boozy Faces-styled rocker that would have sounded nice on FM radio.  Curiously, judging by the lyric you would have thought the song title was 'We All Had a Good Time'.   rating: *** stars

2.) Ooh When You Smile  (Billy Hocher - John Turi - Eric Thorngren) - 2:39

'Ooh When You Smile' was probably the album's most upbeat, pop tunes.  It's always reminded me of a Three Dog Night tune.   rating: *** stars

2.) Rock 'n' Roll Hootchi Coo   (Rick Derringer) - 4:56

Admittedly changing the song title wasn't a big deal  (Rick Derringer's original title was 'Rock 'n' Roll Hootchie Coo' - for some reason they dropped the final 'e'), but slowing it down to a funeral march pace really didn't do the song any favors.  I can clearly remember wondering if I needed to play around with the the speed adjustment on my turntable.  Slowing the tune down also gave Hocher an opportunity to showcase his rock voice.  rating: *** stars 

3.) I Tip My Hat  (Billy Hocher - John Turi - Eric Thorngren) - 2:25

'I Tip My Hat' was another previously released MCA single. Nice, somewhat surprising blend of Three Dog Night cuteness and Southern rocker.  rating: *** stars

4.) I Tried To Sleep  (Billy Hocher - Eric Thorngren) - 4:08

Bland, AOR-ish ballad that could have been mistaken for scores of other mid-'70s outfits including Three Dog Night.   Complete forgettable.   rating: ** stars


As mentioned, the album included the two earlier Decca promo singles and a newly released third 45:


- 1973's 'Are You Happy Together' b/w '' (MCA catalog number MCA-40014)

- 1974's 'I Tip My Hat' b/w 'I Tip My Hat' (MCA catalog number MCA-40050)

- 1974's 'Bad Bad Girls' b/w 'Bad Bad Girls' (Buddah catalog number BDA 414)


In retrospective, signing with Buddah (a label best known for bubblegum and MOR acts),  probably wasn't a particularly good decision; underscored by the fact the album quickly following its predecessor into cutout bins.   By the end of the year the band was also history.