The Rubinoos

REVIEW: The Rubinoos “The CBS Tapes”


The Rubinoos – The CBS Tapes

The date on the box according to founder Tommy Dunbar (guitar/vocals) was Nov. 3rd, 1976, at CBS Studios in San Francisco. No overdubs, no second takes. And the power-pop icons The Rubinoos revisit their early days of what it was like to be a wise-ass kid in America & a good musician.

Contained are 11 previously unreleased cuts that chronicle the session for their first LP that included covers by many well-known artists: The Meters, King Curtis, Modern Lovers with Jonathan Richman, the DeFranco Family, the Archies, the Ventures, & some rare originals.

The CBS Tapes (Drops June 25 – Yep Roc Records) celebrates the 50th Anniversary of this music that’s certainly not a sloppy lo-fi demo tape or rehearsal. It contains the charm of The Rubinoos juvenile, rude, bratty irreverent attitude & band spirit. All members were, after all, teenagers at the time.

Their first effort a self-titled LP was an accomplished feat. It did attract attention in ‘77. Power pop was an interesting melodic genre nestled away in the confines of disco, new wave & punk. The band subsists on a humorous approach to their music but wisely falls short of a novelty act. Basically, it’s music for adults who don’t want to lose their innocence. Fortunately, the majority of the original Rubinoos are still plugging, unlike all the original Ramones who have passed away.

The Rubinoos have a document of another time & it still sounds good. The energy’s evident in the grooves. The vocals are not Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis or anger-filled Elvis Costello but there’s an element of Dave Edmunds crunch, Brinsley Schwartz, & Rockpile melodic magic. Nothing careless. There’s a dynamic that comes through the years of dust & the gleam’s still there.

On the first cut “All Excited,” Royse Ader bass booms. The British called this music pub rock. Amazing how a bubble-gum song like The Archie’s “Sugar, Sugar,” is reinterpreted into a creative punk beauty by this band. This version has a bit more muscle than the original. Donn Spindt’s drums are quite driving & creative.

Aside from some foul language the cover of “Memphis Soul Stew” has a cool groove laid down & shows the ingenuity of the band. Wonderfully performed though they walk a tightrope of novelty with “Pepsi Generation,” – it’s hilarious how they fit it into the showcase. Their covers are cleverly interpreted & realized.

Jon Rubin (vocals/guitar) is a wild showman & at times sounds like he took a page out of the Big Star/Alex Chilton/Chris Bell songbook. He does a remarkable job.

On the cover of The Beatles’ “She Loves You,” they infuse it with more energy never losing sight of the original’s attraction. It’s a hoot & is not a garage band cover. This is Americana in the hands of teenagers & it certainly still tugs at our youth tendrils.

The 29-minute CD is available @ Bandcamp &

Photo courtesy of their Bandcamp site.








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