Most bands who perpetually play the same songs for twenty years, and only do an annual “reunion” show would be accused, without question, of beating a dead horse, but most bands aren’t The Horse You Rode In On. Their aptly titled album, Beating, features fifteen original tracks written in the early days of their career during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The album was produced, mixed, mastered, and recorded by guitarist Lance McVickar at his studio, McVickar Productions in Piermont, NY and Audio Paint Studios in NYC. It began recording in February 2007 and was finally released November 22nd, 2008 at their twentieth anniversary reunion show.
Unfortunately the prestige of winning the “Best Unsigned Band” Award at the 1989 New York Music Awards didn’t constitute an actual record contract for The Horse to sign. The band persevered, getting airplay on NYC radio station K-ROCK and opening for national acts such as Alice in Chains and The Spin Doctors before officially calling it a day. Having endured a few line-up changes since its inception the band, as featured on the album, now consists of original members Chuck DeBruyn (Lead Vocals), Joel Finn (Bass), and Lance McVickar (Guitar) with Jim DeMaria replacing George Catania on the drums, and “The Blowing Chunks” horn section featuring Pete Bohovesky (Trumpet), John Rarrick (Trombone), and Max Rarrick (Saxophone).
The album starts with the crackling of a phonographic recording (a theme present throughout the album) and moves into the slow, sensuous, horn heavy song “Monkey Love.” This song introduces, among many of the bands other attributes, their unique lyrical sense of humor. DeBruyn’s vocals carry the melody of the song, which mocks a bluesy serenade that gradually builds into a classic pining track. The album then shifts into an up-tempo number, “I Like It Here,” which is a straightforward rock song. Songs like “I’m not myself tonight” showcase the scope of the band and their writing abilities, utilizing the horn section as well as harmonizing vocals provided by Finn and McVickar.
Typically by the third song of an album the band will have revealed most of their tricks and established their “sound,” or the boundaries in which they play. This is not the case with The Horse. They transcend seamlessly into many subtle genres. This is most prevalent on the track “Alice,” which takes a very experimental, psychedelic approach not exhibited elsewhere on the album. At the end of track eight, “House Alone,” another straightforward rock song reminiscent of the early ‘90’s, the listener is instructed to “turn your phonographic disc over to side two,” keeping with the theme established at the beginning of the disc.
Side Two, which is really just track nine, begins with the track “Bonehead,” a self-explanatory song that has and interesting vocal dynamic as DeBruyn trades off with Finn and McVickar’s harmonized vocals during the verses. In addition to his bluesy leads, guitarist Lance McVickar, also provides lead vocals to the track “Bombs,” which like “Alice” on side one veers the band down another direction not forecasted by the previous tracks. It keeps the sound of the band fresh while making the following song, “Island of Misfit Toys,” an inviting return to their traditional, uplifting, rock sound. Another enjoyable excursion on side two is the substitution of DeMaria’s utlra-crisp drumming on “Different Type” for George Rigney different type. While DeMaria’s playing is able to exist both on its own as well as in the structure of the song, Rigney’s approach melds very well with the rhythmic playing of Finn.
Although they aren’t able to capture the experience and energy of their live show on “Beating” it does have a very consistent tone to it, albeit an experimental, refined one, displayed by several very talented musicians. This is clearly a work of passion for their love of music. The album was not made with the intent of, or desire to do anything more than entertain and be enjoyed by fans of music. Depending on the listener, the songs on “Beating” may seem dated, reminiscent, or refreshing, none of which makes them any less than the good, fun, rockin’ songs they were always intended to be when originally written. B+
Band: Chuck DeBruyn [Lead Vocals], Jim DeMaria [Drums], Joel Finn [Bass & Backing Vocals], Lance McVIckar [Guitar & Backing Vocals]; Featuring “The Blowing Chunks” on horns: Pete Bohovesky [Trumpet], John Rarrick [Trombone], and Max Rarrick [Sax].
Beating Track List:
- Monkey Love
- I Like It Here
- I’m Not Myself Tonight
- Take The Blame
- The Package
- House Alone
- You Want It
- Island of Misfit Toys
- Hunan Taste
- Different Type
Be sure to check out Peter O’Brien’s thrash metal documentary “Riphouse 151: Could’ve Been’s & Wanna Be’s” which is currently on the festival circuit.