Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Bloodrock
It’s always pretty weird when you find out someone in your family is freaky. Well, at least as freaky as you are. It was quite a shock to think my big sister could be freaky, but what other conclusion could I come to – I found Bloodrock 2 in her bedroom.
Now back in the day, bands like Bloodrock along with their label- and touring-mates Grand Funk Railroad were pretty much reviled by the highbrow music critics. Music by these bands was considered to be heavy music-lite, manufactured for a teenaged audience much like Hannah Montana and the Jonas Bros. music is today. It was like teenagers of the early 1970s weren’t mature enough to handle Led Zeppelin or the Jefferson Airplane or Mountain – they needed their own music that was PG-13 (actually back then it was “M” – look it up). Critics also said the same thing about Black Sabbath when they came out about this time – and look where Sabbath is now (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).
Bloodrock came from Fort Worth, Texas, and they started out with lead singer Jim Rutledge and a guitar player named Dean Parks. The band originally called itself The Naturals, then they were Crowd +1; in the late 1960s Parks left to become the musical director for Sonny and Cher’s TV show and he was replaced by guitarist Lee Pickens. The band changed its name to Bloodrock around 1969 and they linked up with producer Terry Knight.
Now, Knight is the guy also behind Grand Funk – and a lot of Bloodrock’s music does resemble that of Grand Funk. So … Bloodrock 2. It came out in 1971, and it was a pretty solid representation of Bloodrock’s sound. Except for this one song, “D.O.A.” The song was famed (notorious) in its day, because it’s a spaced-out, first-person account of a grisly accident – it could be a train wreck, a plane crash or a horrific auto smashup, the lyrics never specify which. The narrator (already dead, apparently) describes his injuries and that of his girlfriend in bloody detail, all while this freaky music and sirens wail in the background. Far out! Of course it was popular with stoners – and “D.O.A.” was a bit of a hit single. Some radio stations refused to play the song because it could offend survivors of accidents (which accidents? Any accidents, apparently) but the single still managed to get into the Top 40.
“D.O.A.” might have been the most notorious song on Bloodrock 2, but the rest of the album is pretty solid pop-rock of the era. Drop the needle just about anywhere and you think you’re listening to early Grand Funk Railroad, but with better guitar work. “Lucky In The Morning,” the album opener, is a pretty representative slice of this band’s work on its second album. You can almost hear the stirrings of Styx in that organ riff – can’t you? The album, with only eight tunes, might as well be a party record: “Children’s Heritage” could be playing in the background of any hip early 1970s gathering. And the album wraps with “Fancy Space Odyssey,” which isn’t nearly as trippy as its title may suggest.
Bloodrock would put out albums for a few more years, Rutledge and Pickens would leave in 1972 and personnel shifts would prevail until the band finally hung it up in 1975. Some of the guys still tour around and call themselves Bloodrock today. They were pretty popular in places like Texas and Arkansas; Bloodrock may not have been so well known in other parts of the country, I don’t know. Looking back, I can see where this music was pretty much exactly what the hipper-than-thou scoffers said it was: teen-oriented rock. But I was a teen in that era, and Bloodrock still sounds just great to me.