Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#689 in the Series) is The Roches, Keep on Doing.
I recently heard a song by The Roches on the radio and then it hit me, man I hadn’t thought about them for a long time (Sorry ladies if you’re reading this. I’ll make it up to you!), What a shame, I really like their music. It’s been too long!
What did I like about them? I think it was the melting of sounds that intrigued me when I first had this album thirty years ago. That and the sense of humor that is clearly visible in these songs.
The Roches were a New York band that began in the late ’70. They are three sisters, Maggie, Terre and Suzzy. Their first album, simply called The Roches was released in 1979. It included a couple songs that did fairly well for them. One was called “The Married Men.” It was actually performed by Phoebe Snow and Linda Ronstadt on Saturday Night Live. Shortly after that, they became regulars on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The other song was called “The Hammond Song” You can hear it below. That may be the song that is most closely associated with them.
I really need to get to the point here. All of that stuff was fun, but what was it that really made me like these talented sisters. I alluded to it when I mentioned a “melting of sounds.” Readers who know The Roches know exactly what I’m referring to. That of course would be their band and more importantly, their producer. While The Roches were mainly a folk act, their recording backing band was none other than the progressive rock masters King Crimson, and surely enough, the album was produced by Robert Fripp. This was also true for their debut.
I guess I should be a little more specific since we know that King Crimson had a huge swinging door policy when it came to their lineup so it could have been a number of people. Here it was the King Crimson of the early 80s. Bill Bruford played drums and percussion on this album, Tony Levin played bass and Robert Fripp played electric guitar. He brought along his bag of Frippertronics sounds as well. Adrian Belew, the fourth member of King Crimson does not make an appearance. Besides their lovely voices, The Roches also add acoustic guitar to that melting pot.
The album opens with a song that garnered the sisters some nice recognition. That would be the magnificent a cappella version of Handel’s “The Halleluiah Chorus.” I remember it getting more than a little bit of airplay.
The song that got the most airplay at least in these parts was “Losing True.” This was the song that really showed the joining of the sister’s folk stylings and the previously mentioned Frippertronics. Robert does a great solo on this song. We’ve attached the video below in the playlist.
If you want some more humor, check out “Want Not, Want Not.” I couldn’t find the studio version for you, but I did find a cool live piece.
The sisters have released about 10 albums all told, their last release being Moonswept in 2007. Many of them are still available. Look for them or listen to them via the streaming services.
Listen to the playlist below. I couldn’t find much of this album so I loaded it up with goodies including a really cool version of The Band’s “Acadian Driftwood.”
All tracks composed and arranged by Suzzy and Terre Roche except where indicated.
- “The Hallelujah Chorus” (George Frideric Handel)
- “Losing True” (Margaret Roche)
- “Steady with the Maestro” (George Gerdes)
- “The Largest Elizabeth in the World” (Terre Roche)
- “On the Road to Fairfax County” (David Massengill)
- “I Fell in Love”
- “The Scorpion Lament” (Margaret Roche)
- “Want Not Want Not”
- “Sex Is for Children” (Terre Roche)
- “Keep On Doing What You Do / Jerks On The Loose”
- Maggie Roche: acoustic guitar, synthesizer, piano, singing
- Terre Roche: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, singing
- Suzzy Roche: acoustic guitar, singing
- Tony Levin: bass guitar
- Bill Bruford: percussion
- Robert Fripp: guitar and devices