The Hot Dogs


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1972-73)

- Greg Redding --  vocals, keyboards, guitar

- Bill Rennie -- lead vocals, bass 

 

  backing musicians

- Jack Holder -- lead guitar

- Steve Holt -- drums

- Robert Johnson -- lead guitar

- Terry Manning -- lead guitar

- Fred Prouty -- drums 

- Richard Rosebrough -- drums

- Steve Smith -- keyboards

 

  line up 2 (1973-74)

- Jack Holder -- lead guitar 

- Fred Prouty -- drums 

- Greg Redging --  vocals, keyboards, guitar

- Bill Rennie -- lead vocals, bass

 

 

 

- Black Oak Arkansas  Jack Holder and Greg Reding)

- Cobra (Jack Holding)

- The Escorts (Fred Prouty)

- The Memphis All Stars (Greg Reding)

- Piccadilly Circus (Jack Holder)

- Poor Little Rich Kids (Bill Rennie)

- Sealing Smoke  (Fred Prouty)

- Village Sound (Greg Reding)

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Say What You Mean

Company: Ardent

Catalog: ADS 2805
Year:
 1973

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5754

Price: $35.00

 

The Hot Dogs featured the talents of Memphis-based musicians Greg Reding and Bill Rennie.   Keyboardist/guitar player Reding had previously been a member of Village Sound, while singer/bass player Rennie had been in The Poor Little Rich Kids (he was known as Bill Renni).  Along with former Piccadilly Circus guitarist Jack Holder, in 1970 the group started playing together under the moniker Silver.  The same year the trio went into Memphis' famed Ardent Studios to record some demos. The demos caught the attention of producer Terry Manning who brought in sessions drummer Prouty for backup.  Unfortunately Silver  fell apart before anything could come of it, with Reding and Rennie subsequently paying their bills as touring sidemen for Albert King.  

 

Back in Memphis, 1972 saw Reding and Rennie renew their relationship with producer Manning and with his support went into the Stax-affiliated Ardent Studios to record an album.  With backing from Holder, guitarist Robert Johnson, and Prouty, 1973's Manning-produced "Say What You Mean" was a surprisingly likeable set of British-influenced power pop.  With Reding and Rennie responsible for much of the material (Manning also contributed several tracks), these guys clearly had an affection for English-styled pop with more than a passing nod to Fab Four influenced bands.  In fact, imagine what Badfinger would have sounded like if they'd been from Memphis and you'd be in the right aural ballpark on tracks like 'Thanks',.  The set was quite diverse, ranging from top-40 pop-rock numbers like the Steely Dan-tinged 'Morning Rain'  and the hard rockin' 'Lowdown' to the country-rocker 'When I Come Home Again'.  The playing was uniformly tight and impressive and it made for one of those rare albums where every one of the tracks had something going for them

 

"Say What You Mean" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Say What You Mean   (Steve Smith - S.T. Smith) - 6:34   rating: **** stars

The title track 'Say What You Mean' was a gorgeous ballad with a haunting melody and some beautiful harmony vocals.  Even better were the stunning guitar solos (I'm guessing Holder and Johnson were the featured performers).  Ardent tapped it as a promotion single, but doesn't seem to have released it as a stock 45:

- 1972's 'Say What You Mean' (mono) b/w 'Say What You Mean' (stereo) (Ardent catalog number ADA 2906)

2.) Morning Rain    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 4:48  rating: **** stars

Kicked along by a xylophone (?), 'Morning Rain' started out with a beguiling laidback tropical feel, before taking brief detours into Uriah Heep B3 Hammond organ terrain, following by a cocktail jazz interlude, and ending with a tasteful lead guitar segment(Terry Manning?).  For some reason this one's always reminded me of an early Steely Dan track.  It would have slotted nicely on "Can't Buy a Thrill".  Very nice. 

3.) When I Come Home Again   (Steve Smith - S.T. Smith) - 2:23  rating: **** stars

Shifting gears, 'When I Come Home Again' displayed the group's proficiency in the country-rock department.  Nice melody with an insidiously catchy chorus be forewarned that  this one will stick in your head.  

4.) Time Is All   (Bill Rennie - Jack Holder - Terry Manning - Ruleman) - 3:32  rating: *** stars

'Time Is All' started out as an acoustic ballad, but exploded into an outright rocker before returning to it's roots.  Not my favorite track, though the guitar solo was pretty hot ...

5.) Another Smile  (Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 2:55  rating: **** stars

Side one ended with another  ballad in the form of 'Another Smile'.  This one had a pretty melody and some wonderful harmony vocals from the pair.  Always liked the chiming twelve strings and the handclap percussion on this one.  The song also served as the album's second single:

 

 

 

 

 

1973's 'Another Smile' b/w 'Way To Go To Get You' (Ardent catalog number ADA 2905)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(side 2)
1.) Thanks    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie) - 2:53
  rating: **** stars

'Thanks' was one of the track that reminded me of something out of the Badfinger catalog.  Actually it sounded like Badfinger collaborating with Rodger Daltry.  Pretty melody and a dazzling guitar solo made this one of the best songs on the album.  Great Rennie bass pattern to boot.

2.) Take the Time To Let Me Know    (Greg Reding - Jack Holder - Bill Rennie) - 3:34  rating: *** stars

'Take the Time To Let Me Know' was another pretty ballad, but it didn't really go anywhere.  Once again the highlight came in the form of the tasty guitar solo.

3.) Feel Real Fine  (Terry Manning) - 2:53  rating: **** stars

Manning's 'Feel Real Fine' offered up a weird, but engaging mix of country and rock influences.  It was definitely strange and almost sounded like a "White Album" outtake. Kicked along by some acoustic slide guitar and harmonica, this was actually one of the catchiest numbers.  Beats me why I like it so much.  

4.) Let Me Look At the Sun    (Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 3:52   rating: **** stars

Starting off as another country-tinged number the mandolin-propelled 'Let Me Look At the Sun' came as another major surprise.  Showcasing a fabulous melody and the album's best lead guitar, this was another lost single.

5.) Way To Get To You    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie) - 2:33   rating: **** stars

Following a pattern, 'Way To Get To You' opened up with spare acoustic guitars before bursting into a fuller rock arrangement.  Another pretty melody with glorious harmony vocals ...

6.) Lowdown    (Greg Reding - Bill Rennie - Terry Manning) - 3:33

'Lowdown' ended the album with another out-and-out rocker.  While the song was quite good (another killer guitar performance), on this one Reding and Rennie seemed somewhat uncomfortable singing in the high key.  This one was tapped at the album's third and final single.

- 1973's 'Lowdown' b/w 'Let Me Look At the Sun' (Ardent catalog number ADA 2908)

 

All hyperbole aside, this was one of those rare albums that actually seemed to get better the more often you listened to it.  

 

 

 

With Holder and Prouty on-board as full time members, over the next year the band supported the album and toured extensively.  They also recorded a rocked-up version of the Johnny Cash hit 'I Walk the Line' as a non-LP 45 before calling it quits in 1974.  

 

1974's 'I Walk the Line' b/w 'Thanks' (Ardent catalog ADA-2910)

 

Holder and Reding subsequently reappeared as members of Black Oak Arkansas playing on at least one LP - 1977's "Race with the Devil".  Holder went on to play with the band Cobra, while Reding went on to join The Memphis All Stars.

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Hot Dog

Company: Guinness

Catalog: GNS 36082
Year:
 1977

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: still in shrink wrap (unopened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5753

Price: $300.00

 

In 1977 the infamous New York-based tax scam Guinness label released "Hot Dog".  Either on purpose (in order to obscure the musical source), or out of  sheer laziness, Guinness didn't bother to do much research on the band, erroneously crediting the album to "Hot Dog", rather than The Hot Dogs.  The company also managed to get Bill Rennie's name wrong - he was shown as Bill Ronnie (I've shown the right spelling in the songwriting credits).  Nothing more than speculation on my part, but I'm guessing these  eight tracks represented outtakes from the first album and recording sessions for a planned sophomore album.   The collection was apparently released without the band's knowledge, or involvement.  As you'd expect from a tax scam release, there was precious little information to be found on the LP - no production information, nothing about when, or where it was recorded.  Elsewhere, whereas the first set had a distinctive power-pop feel, this time out tracks like 'You Can't Live' and 'One Night Stand' were more rock oriented, occasionally even recalling label mates Big Star.  Part of the explanation for the modified sound may have been due to the fact singer/guitarist Jack Holder who had been a backing musician on the debut album, was prominently featured on these selections, responsible for writing, or co-writing six of the eight tracks.  

 

"Hot Dog" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Freedom   (Jack Holder) - 3:12   rating: **** stars

Holder's 'Freedom' was the most straightforward commercial track on the album.  A driving rocker with an instantly likeable hook. this one would have sounded great on mid-1970s radio.  Anyone who liked Big Star, or The Raspberries (when they rocked) would find it very appealing.

2.) You Can't Live   (Jack Holder) - 3:15   rating: **** stars

Propelled by Reding's organ, 'You Can't Live' recalled a good Uriah Heep composition - yes such a thing exists.  Nice rocker.

3.) Woman   (Bill Ronnie) - 2:48   rating: ** stars

The lone Ronnie composition, 'Woman ' was a pretty, but forgettable ballad.

4.) One Night Stand   (Greg Reding) - 6:31   rating: **** stars

The lone Reding composition, 'One Night Stand' started out as a bluesy ballad.  The growling vocals were a bit rough, but enjoyable and the song found a great groove about halfway through turning into a much more attractive performance.   Very nice.

 

(side 2)
1.) Jimmy Dean   (Jack Holder - Fred Prouty - Greg Reding - Bill Rennie) - 2:17  
rating: **** stars

Complete with blazing twin lead guitars, 'Jimmy Dean' was a near perfect slice of Southern rock.  How did radio miss this one?  

2.) Puttin' It Back Together Again  (Jack Holder - Fred Prouty - Greg Reding - 4:49   rating: **** stars

This is going to sound kind of weird, but for some reason 'Puttin It Back Together Again' has always reminded me of a James Gang track.  By the way, that was meant as a compliment.  The lead vocal had the same 'choking-on-bile' edge that Joe Walsh sang with and the song itself had the same heavy, sludgy feel that characterized the best James Gang compositions.  Great track.

3.) Rock and Roll   (Jack Holder) - 3:28   rating: *** stars

Like the title, 'Rock and Roll' was a pleasant, but rather conventional and quickly forgotten rocker.  The highlight was the short, but tasty guitar solo.

4.) Ain't It the Truth  (Jack Holder - Fred Prouty - Greg Reding - Bill Rennie) - 3:57   rating: **** stars

The group composed 'Ain't It the Truth' found them returning to a Southern rock stance (complete with cowbell).  Curiously every time I hear the chorus I swear they're singing 'ain't that the 'tude' ...  

 

Certainly not a particularly original, or creative release, but fun and enjoyable throughout.  And while I like the first album quite a lot, the nod would go to this one.  By the way if you were wondering about the price, know that this is one of the rarest albums in the Guinness catalog.  Good luck finding another copy.  It's also on my list of top-five tax scam releases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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