Missouri


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1976-77)

- Alan Cohen (RIP 2003) -- bass, backing vocals

- Bill Larson -- drums, percussion

- Lane Turner -- vocals, guitar

- Ron West (aka Ron Hodgeden) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards,

  harmonica

 

  line up 2  (1977-78)

- Alan Cohen (RIP 2003) -- bass, backing vocals

- Bill Larson -- drums, percussion

NEW - Randall Platt -- keyboards

- Lane Turner -- vocals, guitar

- Ron West (aka Ron Hodgeden) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards,

  harmonica

 

  line up 3  (1978)

- Alan Cohen (RIP 2003) -- bass, backing vocals

NEW - Jeff Litrel -- drums, percussion (replaced Bill Larson)

- Randall Platt -- keyboards

- Lane Turner -- vocals, guitar

- Ron West -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica

 

  line up 4  (1978-79)

NEW - Dan Billings (RIP 2007) -- drums, percussion (replaced 

 Jeff Litrel)

- Alan Cohen (RIP 2003) -- bass, backing vocals

- Randall Platt -- keyboards

NEW - Webb Waterman -- guitar (replaced Lane Turner)

- Ron West (aka Ron Hodgeden) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards,

  harmonica

 

  line up 6  (1979-84)

NEW - Rob Brennan -- drums, percussion (replaced Dan Billings)

- Alan Cohen (RIP 2003) -- bass

- Randall Platt -- keyboards

- Webb Watermann -- guitar (replaced Lane Turner)

- Ron West (aka Ron Hodgeden) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards,

  harmonica

 

  line up 7 (1994-96)

NEW - Jim Bingston -- lead guitar

NEW - Brett Eklund -- lead guitar

NEW - Julie Flood -- violin, backing vocals

NEW - Bill Larson-- drums, percussion

NEW - Chris Jones -- keyboards

- Ron West (aka Ron Hodgeden) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards,

  harmonica

NEW - Chris Wiliker -- bass

 

 

 

- Alexis (Dan Billinsg)

- Casinova (Chris Wilike)

- Charlie and the Stingrays (Chris Jones)

- The Chessmen (Ron West)

- Chesmann Square

- Orphan (Jim Bingston)

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Missouri

Company: Panama

Catalog:  PRS 1022
Year:
 1977

Country/State: Kansas City, Missouri

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2879

Price: $40.00

For some reason there seems to have been an explosion in the number of mid-'70s rock bands trying to claw their way out of the Midwest.  Among the rush was Kansas City's Missouri.

 

With brothers Gary and Steve, Ron Hodgden (aka Ron West)t had been a member of The Chessmen. Starting in the mid-'60s up through 1974, The Chessmen had been one of Kansas City's best known bands.  They'd initially started out doing Beatles material, but broadened their repertoire to cover the entire popular music spectrum, even managing to churn out some original material.  The Chessmen called it  quits in 1974, with Ron spending a couple of years working with his sister Trisha in the band Thrush.  In 1976 West struck out on his own.  

 

Based on a series of demos he'd recorded, West was signed to Chris Frtiz's newly formed Panama label.  He then set out to recruit a band to learn the songs, polish them up, and start touring.  Under the name Missouri, he ended up recruiting bassist  Alan Cohen., drummer Bill Larson, and lead guitarist Lane Turner.  During the recording sessions for 1977's "Missouri" keyboardist Randall Platt was added to the line-up.   

 

The few detailed online reviews you can find leave the impression these guys were Southern rockers and while there were clearly some bar band and boogie rock influences on the collection ('You're Alright' and 'Come On Move'), West and company were equally influenced by Midwestern rock and even an occasional progressive move.  It made for an album that was painfully short on original ideas, but at the same time compensated for many of those creative shortcomings with a sense of enthusiasm and energetic performances.  West had a voice that was well suited for these genres - strong and versatile, but not particularly distinctive.  Lead guitarist Turner wasn't flashy, but routinely turned in nice work - check out his work on 'Goin' Home'.  The same comments were true for the Cohn-Larson rhythm section - steady and competent.  And against that backdrop the album was far more enjoyable that you would have expected.  Yeah there were too many forgettable boogie rockers and the "life's tough as a musician" lyric didn't help their best known song 'Movin' On'.  Still, to my ears 'I'm Still Tryin'', ' I Know It's Love', and 'Goin' Home' were all first rate performances.

Line up # 4 left to right:  Randall Platt - Ron West - Alan Cohen - Webb Watermann - Dan Billings 

 

The band toured extensively in support of the album, opening up for a slew of national acts including Blue Oyster Cult, Head East, to Golden Earring, and Ted Nugent.  Unfortunately within a year the heavy touring schedule began taking a toll on band members.  Drummer Larsen was the first to go.  That set up a Spinal Tap like string of replacement drummers for the band.   Guitarist Turner also headed out the door, replaced by Webb Watermann.

 

"Missouri" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Intro   (Ron West) - 1:06   rating: ** stars

Buried in synthesizer washes, 'Intro' didn't exactly sound like a Southern rocker.  More like a tired Kansas retread.   

2.) Movin' On   (Ron West - 3:22   rating; **** stars

'Intro' segued directly into 'Movin' On', but thankfully dropped the synthesizers.  Melding a patented "life is tough on the road" lyric with a decent Southern rock melody and a splash of CCR, it was easy to see why it was the closest thing the band ever had to a hit single.  Originally released on their small Panama label, in 1979 the band re-recorded the song for their second album on Polydor.

- 1977's 'Movin' On' b/w 'Can't Stop' (Panama catalog number PRS 2022)

- 1979's 'Movin' On' b/w 'Can't Stop' (Polydor catalog number PD 14571)

3.) Got That Fever   (Ron West - 3:20   rating; **** stars

There wasn't a single original note or though into these three minutes, but that did nothing to detract from the fun quota found in the rocker 'Got That Fever'.   Bet this one was a killer in a small, beer drenched club.  YouTube has a clip of the band performing this song at  St. Louis club (Cassidys).  It was recorded a decade later with a largely different line-up and I'm not certain the sound was 100% live, but it's a blast to see the band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AtIWNtBI-8 

4.) I'm Still Tryin'   (Ron West) - 4:12   rating; **** stars

Powered by Paul James Jr. thick, sustained chords, 'I'm Still Tryin'' has always reminded me of a Pink Floyd tune ...  well Pink Floyd if they'd been born and raised in the Midwest.  Nice mid-tempo ballad that would have sounded great on FM radio

5.) You're Alright   (Ron West) - 3:02   rating: ** stars

Professional, competent, and completely forgettable.

6.) Really Love You   (Ron West) - 3:32  rating; *** stars

Full of chiming lead guitars, unexpectedly sweet harmony vocals, and a nice hook, 'Really Love You' was probably the album's most radio friendly pop tune. 

 

(side 2)

1.)  Hold Me   (Ron West) - 3:05   rating: ** stars

'Hold Me' offered up a classic slice of mid-'70s bar band boogie.   That meant it was professional, nut somewhat anonymous.  By the time you got through the next song, you'd all but forgot this one. YouTube has a performance clip of the song, but the studio version of the song seems to have been overdubbed on that video.

2.) I Know It's Love   (Ron West) - 3:03   rating: **** stars

The wind sound effects were unnecessary, but the rest of 'I Know It's Love' was quite good, evoking a nice AOR rock.  Quite commercial with West showing off an unusual slinky vocal style.

3.) Come On Move   (Ron West) - 2:32  rating: ** stars

Mindless and forgettable boogie rock.

4.) Goin' Home   (Ron West) - 2:25   rating: **** stars

Showcasing another catchy hook, 'Goin' Home' was one of the tracks responsible for the band's Southern rock tag.   Imagine the Allmans having decided to record a truly commercial song and this one will give you feel for the results.  Nice lead from Turner.

5.) Mystic Lady   (Ron West) - 5:18  rating: **** stars

Surrounded by synthesizer washes and occasional Atari-styled blips and blobs, 'Mystic Lady' was the album's most progressive-tinged song.  Nice atmospheric ballad with one of the album's strongest melodies.

 

Third generation drummer Dan Billings passed away in 2007.

Original bassist Alan Cohn died in 2003.

 

For anyone interested, there's an extensive Missouri website at:  http://www.missouriband.com/

 

 

 

 



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