The Cassette Chronicles – Roughhouse’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HOUSE – ROUGHHOUSE (1988)

As has been the case with a few bands in past articles, the band Roughhouse is one that I’ve never heard anything from. I don’t recall every seeing an ad, hearing a song or even the band’s name from all my time listening to the 80’s metal years. So checking this band out serves as a rather intriguing history lesson if nothing else.

What surprised me is that they existed as Teeze before they switched their name. Under the Teeze moniker, they are credited on their Wikipedia page as having released a self-titled album (that was reissued again the following year).

The music on the album was mostly written by bassist Dave Weakley and guitarist Gregg Malack. Singer Luis Rivera co-wrote three of the tracks as well. The band’s sound is definitely that hard rocking kind of glaMmed up sound that was prevalent in 1988. I wasn’t sure how it would sit with me before I popped the cassette in the player but I was surprised to find a lot to enjoy.

The first two songs on the album are pretty rocking. “Don’t Go Away” and “Tonite” each have a real solid hook to grab your ear. I will say that Rivera’s vocals seemed to be a bit grating on me as I first listened but after that, they really tied into the overall mix of the songs and I ended up liking the way he sounded a lot more. The first impression was not the right one in this case.

This may sound strange but the somewhat slower but not quite a power ballad track “Love Is Pain” had me thinking it came off as a song that the band Vixen would’ve been perfect for. I know that is kind of a backhanded compliment but there you have it.

The first side of the album closes out with two more strong rockers. While I loved “Love or Lust”, I thought the way the vocal was performed on the chorus of “Can’t Find Love” left much to be desired.

As for the second side of the album, it was even more enjoyable than Side One if you can believe it. The song “Teeze Me Pleeze Me” was an electric kick in the pants to open Side Two while the fiery licks of “Midnight Madness” held you in its grasp. The last two songs on Roughhouse were truly outstanding in my book. “Racin'” definitely fired the imagination and lived up to its title with how the song moved from start to finish. The guitar work on this song as well as “Fantasy” were fantastic and kind of set me back on my heels a bit. The guitars blazed and I was surprised enough that a picture of my face as they played would probably have seen a real gleeful look in my eyes.

Despite having no idea what to expect going into this album, I was pretty happy to have added this to my musical memory banks. The band never made it big or anything but their one and only album as Roughhouse was, even decades after its release, a real bit of rocking entertainment!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album is credited as having been partially recorded at Long View Farm Studios in Worcester, MA. I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. I looked it up online and the studio was actually in North Brookfield, MA, which was in Worcester County. Probably a small detail but at least you know I’m doing the research, right? Either way, the studio played host to an incredible lineup of bands from Aerosmith, The J. Geils Band, Cat Stevens, Dan Fogelberg, Living Colour and many others over the years. And it was apparently used as a rehearsal studio by The Rolling Stones in 1981.

The band broke up in 1989 or 1991 depending on what source you are reading but has reunited over the years. They have an active Facebook page (Teeze Roughhouse) and fan website (http://www.roughhouse-teeze.com). The band has a show coming up on October 5th, 2019, in Sellersville, PA.

Roughhouse featured two guitarists in their lineup. They had Gregg Malack of course, but their 2nd guitarist was Rex Eisen. He went on to a more high profile musical career as Tripp Eisen playing for Static-X, Dope and Murderdolls before a couple of disturbing run-ins with the law left him in a load of legal troublE.

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