"Lost" 1979 album featuring Mick Ronson (Bowie) set for October 18 release
Today, Rave On Records reveals details of a comprehensive reissue campaign from Roger C. Reale and Rue Morgue, including an unreleased album featuring guitar legend Mick Ronson. During the studio group’s 1978-1979 existence, a stellar lineup of rock sidemen recorded as Rue Morgue, including guitarists G.E. Smith (Daryl Hall & John Oates, Bob Dylan, Saturday Night Live Band), Mick Ronson (David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Ian Hunter) and Jimmy McAllister (The Beckies, Mick Ronson Band, Sparks), alongside drummer Hilly Michaels (Mick Ronson Band, Sparks, Ian Hunter). Reale served as the group’s primary songwriter, vocalist, and bassist.
Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue — The Collection CD/DL (Rave On TGP-1015) The Collection features Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue’s discography, with all 24 remastered tracks making their CD debut on October 18. Tracks 1-12 comprise the band’s 1978 U.S. debut album Radioactive (originally issued on indie label Big Sound), as well as an additional pair of tracks (“Close Inspection” and a cover of Fontella Bass’ 1965 Billboard #1 R&B chart topper “Rescue Me”) which appeared on the subsequent UK release of Radioactive by Decca/London Records. The band lineup features Reale (lead vocals, bass), G.E Smith (guitar), Hilly Michaels (drums, vocals), and Jimmy McAllister (guitar, track 10). Tracks 13-24 comprise the Reptiles In Motion album (details below). All 24 tracks were produced by Trod Nossel Studios owner/CEO Thomas “Doc” Cavalier and recorded and mixed by house engineer Richard Robinson. Compilation produced in 2019 by Richard Brukner.
Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue — Reptiles In Motion LP (Rave On TGP-1014) Recorded in 1979, the previously unreleased Reptiles In Motion was meant to be Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue’s second album. The band includes Reale (lead vocals, bass), Mick Ronson (guitar), Jimmy McAllister (guitar, vocals), and Hilly Michaels (drums, vocals).Reptiles In Motion will be released October 18.
Note: For a limited time, orders placed for the Reptiles In Motion vinyl LP on Bandcamp will include an original, sealed 1978 copy of the U.S. pressing of the Radioactive LP.
Although Rhode Island-born Reale was actively involved in other gigging bands in the New England scene of the late 1970s, his band Rue Morgue was primarily a studio group closely associated with Trod Nossel Studios in Wallingford, CT, and its affiliated label, Big Sound. “Big Sound initially patterned itself after Stiff Records,” reveals Reale. “Punk and new wave stuff was getting through and Big Sound wanted to be part of that.” Big Sound A&R man Jon Tiven continues, “I thought Big Sound was going to be anything other than mainstream that qualified as rock. Roger is the closest thing we had to an artist that I thought would be appealing to Ramones fans, Richard Hell fans, somebody who had that kind of adrenaline rush.” In fact, Reale was an eyewitness to the glory days of those acts as he frequently traveled to New York City to experience the electrifying punk scene happening at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City.
When it came time to cut a debut album, Reale brought in guitarist G.E. Smith and Tiven suggested drummer Hilly Michaels. Smith’s dynamic live work with regional live act The Scratch Band was a known quantity, and Michaels had just come off the road with Sparks. “Radioactive sessions went very quickly, no wasted time,” recalls Reale. “Whatever had to be done was done in one day. All the songs were fully formed, and G.E. and Hilly added their personalities. As a trio, we just clicked.” Smith recalls, “Roger was a good singer, a REALLY good singer. I remember, man, when the three of us would sit in a room and play… it was HUGE… I’ve played on a bunch of things since then, you know, but that whole album is really one of my top two or three.” Soon after the Radioactive sessions wrapped, the band’s live debut was booked. In November, 1978, Reale, Michaels, and guitarist Jimmy McAllister (who had featured on one Radioactive cut) played a showcase gig at the popular concert venue Hurrah on Manhattan’s upper east side. Smith had made other commitments by this point and had moved on. By all accounts, the Hurrah gig set the house ablaze. However, it would prove to not only be Rue Morgue’s lone NYC show, but the group’s only live appearance ever during its short existence. Despite being picked up for UK distribution via Decca/London Records, Radioactive failed to find an audience. But no time was wasted in prepping for a second Rue Morgue LP. “I brought Roger’s record over to Mick Ronson’s house,” recalls Michaels. “I sat him down and I put on Roger’s record, and Mick was just fixated. No calls, no “Hey Mick,” he just put his hands up and was hypnotized by the first record. ‘F**king hell, Hilly, this is amazing! Can I play on the next one?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely, I’m sure you can!’”
In January 1979, recording began on Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue’s second and final album, Reptiles In Motion. In addition to McAllister and Michaels, Ronson was brought in for the sessions. “I picked Mick’s brain,” remembers Reale. “He had recently produced The Rich Kids LP, so we talked about that and a lot of other musical things, and I remember it as being very comfortable.” Michaels recalls, “Mick locked in and it was lightning in a bottle a second time. Even better, even more thematic and powerful. And I think Mick was hedging a bit, because he fell for Jimmy. Mick was that sweet and kind and considerate, not overdoing it, and maybe underplaying it just a bit so as not to take away from Jimmy. Amazing.”
Cue record company turmoil at label Big Sound. Michaels recalls that Tiven got into a major disagreement with (album producer and Trod Nossel studio owner) Thomas “Doc” Cavalier and left. By 1981, Reale realized that the uncompleted sessions for the second album would likely never be finished, much less released. Flash forward to 2018. Justice is finally attained as Reale — with assistance from compilation producer Richard Brukner — finally acquires ownership of all his publishing and master tapes. Reale summarizes the Rue Morgue story: “Radioactive and Reptiles — both of those albums are greater than the sum of their parts. G.E., Hilly, and I immediately hit that wavelength where you know you’re onto something special, and we turned things up a notch when Jimmy McAllister and Mick Ronson came on board. I’m happy for Jimmy, to tell you the truth, because he was such a fantastic musician and friend. Jimmy died in 2006, but there’s some justice now that Reptiles is finally coming out and people can hear his incredible talent. That was an exciting time for new music and we had a chance to be part of it. We had some good songs. And we could play.” After leaving Big Sound, Reale continued to write and perform, moving from pop influenced sounds back to his blues roots. His songs have been recorded by Buddy Guy (1998 Grammy Nomination: Best Contemporary Blues Album), Michael Burks (2004 WC Handy Blues Song of the Year Nomination), and Johnny Winter (2004 Grammy Nomination: Best Contemporary Blues Album). Reale continues to perform and release new music with his band The Manchurians.
News story provided by Prime Mover Media