Discography of Red Rockers:
|#||Cover||Release title||Total tracks||Download mp3 album||Release date||Label fo release|
|2||'Till It All Falls Down||3||1983||Columbia|
|3||Good As Gold / Schizophrenic Circus||21||1995|
|4||Condition Red||12||1981||415 Records|
|7||Good As Gold||10||1983||Columbia|
|8||Condition Red||19||1999||Lost And Found Records|
|9||Good As Gold||10||1983||CBS|
|12||Blood From A Stone||2||1984|
|13||Eve Of Destruction||2||1984||CBS|
|14||Schizophrenic Circus||12||2007||Wounded Bird Records|
|15||Good As Gold||10||2006||Wounded Bird Records|
|16||Good As Gold||2||1983||CBS|
|17||'Til It All Falls Down||3||1983||Columbia|
|18||Good As Gold||2||1983||Columbia|
|19||'Til It All Falls Down||3||1983||CBS|
|23||Eve Of Destruction||2||1984||Epic|
|26||Guns Of Revolution||3||1980||Vinyl Solution Records|
|28||The Penthouse/Omni Magazine College Rock Concert||2||1983||London Wavelength|
|29||Good As Gold||11||1983||CBS Inc. /Sony / 415 Records|
|30||Eve Of Destruction / T.D.F The Truth||2||1984||Columbia|
|31||Good As Gold||2||1983||Columbia|
|33||B.B.C. Rock Hour||12||1983||London Wavelength|
|34||Good As Gold||2||1983||Columbia|
|35||Good As Gold||2||1983||Columbia|
|37||Good As Gold||2||1983|
The band was formed as a trio in 1979 (New Orleans, LA) by John Thomas Griffith (rhythm guitar and vocals), James Singletary (lead guitar), and Darren Hill (bass guitar). Under the short-lived pseudonyms of "Stunn", "James Jett", and "Derwood", with various stand-ins as "Drummur", they played punk rock as The Rat Finks. The group members were deeply influenced by the relatively new punk scene, and they were particularly moved by the radical political songs and styles of The Clash and The Dils. After a period of reassessment, they took on a permanent drummer, Patrick Butler Jones, and resumed use of their real names. They changed the name of the band itself, drawing on Darren Hill's favorite song by The Dils – "Red Rockers Rule". (In their live performances, The Dils in fact performed two different songs, "Red Rockers" and "Red Rockers Rule", but neither one was committed to vinyl until well after Red Rockers had released their own first record.)
Guns of Revolution: 1979–1980
Cover of Guns of Revolution
Red Rockers quickly joined the punk milieu in late 1979 with their first vinyl record, Guns of Revolution. The 45rpm EP, with the title track on the A-side and its B-sides of "Teenage Underground" and "Nothing to Lose", was a loud, anthemic cult favorite. The brash new band was heralded in punk fanzines as "America's Clash"
Guns of Revolution was only the third release by a fledgling New Orleans record label called Vinyl Solution. Sales outstripped the small company's supply of its striking war-themed cover art, and subsequent pressings were distributed in plain white sleeves. (A third cover, with a photo of the band themselves, exists in extremely limited quantities). On the strength of the EP, Red Rockers became regular concert partners for every punk band that toured through the New Orleans area. The group honed a harsh hardcore sound as they gigged relentlessly for the next two years.
Condition Red: 1981–1982
Along the way, the band assembled its first full-length album, Condition Red. Their tour through California led them to a prominent new record label, 415 Records, which released the 12-song LP in 1981. The record included a newly redone version of "Guns of Revolution" as well as the popular live track "Dead Heroes", which had appeared on a local New Orleans punk compilation and quickly became a signature song for the band. Condition Red was very well received in the national rock music press and revealed the band's growing integration into the punk rock elite. A special guest appearance was made by Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra who lent background vocals to the cover version of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues". In early 1982, Red Rockers opened for The Clash as they toured Louisiana and Texas.
Condition Red yielded scant commercial profit, but its enthusiastic reception greatly bolstered the confidence of the band's new managers at 415. The San Francisco recordmakers were considered one of the most important independent record labels of the time, and their favor would prove decisive. They assisted the band in relocating to their city, and set upon drastically altering their musical style.
Good as Gold: 1982–1983
Cover of Good as Gold
The band toured heavily with their label colleagues, quickly finding a harmony with their styles: Translator, Wire Train, and Romeo Void were all New Wave bands, accomplished and popular, but with evident non-punk character. When they were not playing gigs, the band worked long hours in the recording studio with the exacting producer David Kahne. Amid the strain and dissension, drummer Patrick Butler Jones left the band, and by late 1983 he had been replaced by another ex-punk band member, Jim Reilly, who had drummed for the Northern Irish punk rock band Stiff Little Fingers. The "new" Red Rockers were filmed in two different videos in anticipation of the record's release.
When Good as Gold was released by a partnership of 415 and the major label Columbia, the distribution change was indicative of a change in the values of the band. What surprised critics more, however, was the change in music: from the rough, raging sound of the past, Red Rockers had become a polished, almost gentle-sounding band, fitting in easily with the softer New Wave styles of the time. By the end of the year, Red Rockers surpassed all their labelmates in commercial success.
Kahne had put the band in the studio for unexpectedly long hours, and the work that received the biggest investment of time was the new song "China". Described by rock critic Ira Robbins as a "startlingly pretty pop song", it was a huge success – the single became a hit on the US music charts and the music video became a long-running staple on nascent MTV. A second single, the title track "Good as Gold", followed as Red Rockers crossed North America opening for major tours including The Cars, The Kinks, The Go-Go's, Joan Jett and Men at Work.
Schizophrenic Circus: 1984–1985
Cover of Schizophrenic Circus
The success of Good As Gold brought mixed fortune to Red Rockers. They felt the sting of their punk rock audience, who scornfully rejected the band's sudden conversion to commercial rock. Disunity over the band's direction was rampant and eventually led to the exit of guitarist James Singletary. The band's next album showed an even greater fragmentation in their musical approach: Schizophrenic Circus (1984) featured a new guitarist, Shawn Paddock, and a new producer Rick Chertoff but lacked a group cohesion. To its critics, the album drifts among musical forms and relies heavily on a high percentage of cover songs: the quasi-psychedelia of "Good Thing I Know Her" (which bears the album title in its lyrics) conveyed yet another new departure for the band's sound, "bewildering" to some. With some difficulty, Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone described Schizophrenic Circus as "postpunk folk-rock with garage-band propulsion and longhair tunefulness."
Perhaps the most glaring stylistic change of all was the unlikely design of the album cover. Redolent of The Doors' Strange Days, the circus-themed cover art was inevitably compared most unfavorably. John Thomas Griffith has said that the cover was disparaged by the bandmembers themselves, and he cites it as a main factor in the album's lukewarm commercial reception.
Three different singles were released from the album, but the only significant success was on college radio, where a cover of Barry McGuire's 1966 folk rock protest song "Eve of Destruction" was a minor hit. The second single was another cover song, "Blood from a Stone", which had been performed by The Hooters on their album Amoré (1983), and Trouser Press acclaimed the Red Rockers version as a big improvement over the original. In the wake of this notoriety, the Hooters remade the song again the following year, on their album Nervous Night (1985).
The 12-inch single featuring two versions of "Just Like You" was the band's last release. In early 1985, while still relatively well-known and touring with U2 on their Unforgettable Fire tour, Red Rockers disbanded and never reformed.
Lead singer John Thomas Griffith now plays guitar and sings in the band Cowboy Mouth which he co-founded in 1990 with Paul Sanchez and Fred LeBlanc. James Singletary currently plays guitar for the New Orleans-based band Alexander Fly. Jim Reilly and Darren Hill joined the Boston-based Raindogs in 1985. Eventually Reilly moved back to the UK and currently plays with Scottish band The Dead Handsomes. Hill stayed in Boston, forming Klover in the mid-1990s; he now runs a management company, Ten Pin Management, which has represented Paul Westerberg, Roky Erickson, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The New York Dolls, and others.
John Griffith - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards (1979 – 1985)
Darren Hill – Bass, Vocals (1979 – 1985)
Patrick Butler Jones - Drums, Percussion (1979 – 1983)
Jim Reilly – Drums (1983 – 1985)
James Singletary - Lead Guitar (1979 – 1984)
Shawn Paddock – Guitar, Vocals (1984 – 1985)