Good Rats, The


Band members               Related acts

- John Gatto - guitar

- Larry Kotke - bass, vocals

- John Franco - drums

- Mickey  Marchello - vocals, guitar

- Peppi Marchello - vocals, harmonica


 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Tasty

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: BS-2813

Year: 1974

Country/State: Long Island, NY

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: promo sticker on cover

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4617

Price: $20.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Along with NRBQ, these guys may be American's best know unknown band.  I'll readily admit that these guys are a hit or miss proposition for me.  At least part of my reluctance to fully embrace them has to do with the fact that lead singer Peppi Marchello has a bizarre resemblance to Slade's  ...

 

"Tasty" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Back To My Music  (Peppi Marchello) - 

2.) Injun Joe  (Peppi Marchello) - 

3.) Tasty  (Peppi Marchello) - 

4.) 300 Boys  (Peppi Marchello) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) Fireball Express  (Peppi Marchello) - 

2.) Fred Upstairs & Ginger Snappers  (Peppi Marchello) - 

3.) Phil Fleish  (Peppi Marchello) - 

4.) Klash-Ka-Bob  (Peppi Marchello) - 

5.) Songwriter  (Peppi Marchello) - 

 

 

 

I didn't really get into the Good Rats until the original band had broken up, but it's funny how to me, this album just sounds like "where I come from" - and I've been kinda rediscovering this band lately. Sure, there are a few artists out there that one might say possess the "Long Island Sound" (no pun intended - though it also warrants mentioning that for those doubters, I'm actually not the first to coin the phrase - and I strongly maintain that it is identifiable in recordings), but none capture the working-class side of the people and places like the Good Rats. That's why in retrospect it seems fitting that my first exposure to the band was one summer after a day of working construction with my dad, when my uncle handed me a stack of vinyl that included "Tasty" - and told me that it was "just a great rock n' roll album".

Of all of their recordings, "Tasty" is the one that stretches across genres with the most finesse, and has the most enduring songwriting and performances - including the title track, which is probably the song they are most known for and is still somewhat of a staple on Long Island radio.

As far as musicianship goes, in this genre you really couldn't ask for better - though for all of the technical proficiency, the album is consistently accessible and grounded - owed in part to the songwriting, and in part to the "just finished gargling with broken glass" vocals of lead singer Peppi Marchello. But don't take that to mean that he's one of those gravelly spoken-word type frontmen, Peppi's got some serious pipes.

This album is somewhat unique in the Rats catalog, since later discs were more about straightforward rock tunes that wrapped up around 3-4 minutes. Which is not to say that's a bad thing (if you're curious, "Rat City In Blue" and "From Rats to Riches" are recommended - and "Live At Last" is one of the best live albums ever, in my opinion - while the fidelity isn't so hot, a super tight and proficient band at the top of their game more than makes up for it). These songs stretch out a bit more, and are loaded with jazz influences - even a few bars of Ellington's "Caravan" on "Fred Upstairs & Ginger Snappers" (great title!) - and "Tasty" is worth a listen for the guitar work and pristine vocal harmonies alone.

All told, this doesn't try to be "high art", and that's what makes it so great - it is what it is - you can tell these guys are having fun and not putting too much thought into it, and we all benefit. A great album for rolling down the windows and driving through the old neighborhood.

If you look for it on ebay or half.com, expect to pay an arm and a leg for it - because original copies on CD (and vinyl) are out of print. However, if you're curious enough to jump on a recommendation like this, you can order copies of Rats CDs directly from the band (they still perform - Peppi is the lead singer, and other, younger Marchellos are in the new lineup) for a good price at www.goodrats.com.

Some Good Rats Trivia: My dad bought my first acoustic guitar from guitarist John "The Cat" Gatto, who was working at Musicland in Lindenhurst, NY at the time. =)

 Tasty (Warner Bros.) What can you say about a band admirers claim is the best to emerge from Long Island since the Vanilla Fudge? That even Shadow Morton isn't so foolish

 

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