REOTWOThere are many, many REO Speedwagon fans that, for the most part, originate from their 1978 best-seller, You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish.  That was followed by the runaway success of 1980’s Hi-Infidelity (Nine Lives released in 1979, after You Can Tune A Piano…, and before Hi-Infidelity)  Both studio albums  spring-boarded from the success of their 1977 live album, Live: You Get What You Play For, itself a platinum-selling double LP.  Up until this live album, the band struggled to find a fan-base.  Epic Records really hung in with this band despite its waning fan-base up through R.E.O. (1976)

But I have little interest in most things REO unless you mention R.E.O./T.W.O., in which case, you have my complete attention.  REO has an interesting history that involves fights, disagreements, and a revolving door list of band members.  With several front-men, with the most prominent being Kevin Cronin, it’s a wonder that REO Speedwagon survived to produced as many albums as they had.

R.E.O./T.W.O. is flat out a genuine classic, virtually unknown, and if known, then widely under-appreciated to favor the pop/rock Hi-Infidelity.

R.E.O./T.W.O. was released in 1972 after an interesting first album that featured Terry Luttrell (who went on to join Starcastle for several excellent Starcastle releases) as the band’s singer.  It was also the first album that featured Kevin Cronin after the ouster of Luttrell (one of those fights).  R.E.O./T.W.O. has a healthy mix of Richrath compositions as well as newcomer’s Cronin tunes.  In addition, the album furnished a fascinating Chuck Berry cover, “Little Queenie”.

From start to finish, R.E.O./T.W.O. is a varied album that shows immense promise for the emerging Illinois band.  Opening with “Let Me Ride”, driving headlong into the rockin’ “How The Story Goes”, and slipping into a fun, rocked up and  modernized version of “Little Queenie”, the album still has five more songs to go even as we’re already pleased with the preceding three.

REOTWOBackCoverAs far as the songs were concerned here, Cronin’s works were the weaker material on the album.  Richrath, at the time, was the band’s leader.  Richrath’s songs really showcased his song-writing talents.  With “Like You Do”, “How The Story Goes”, “Flash Tan Queen”, and the politicized “Golden Country” (the album’s unquestioned masterpiece), Gary Richrath was the go-to guy, especially with his guitar work and lead lines..  But Cronin’s “Music Man” was not a bad song choice even as the other Cronin songs worked well enough to successfully finish up  R.E.O./T.W.O.

R.E.O./T.W.O. is a solid effort, one that should have garnered praise from Rock fans far and wide.  But it didn’t.  I can’t help but think that even as the band’s popularity waned, Epic held on because this particular album was so good.  After all, they’d have to have another one of these in them.  From a personal opinion standpoint, the band never provided a worthy sequel to R.E.O./T.W.O., which was a shame as it’s almost a perfect album.

And yes, I love R.E.O./T.W.O. far more than anything else they have ever produced.

By MARowe

6 thoughts on “Ignored Albums: R.E.O./T.W.O. – R.E.O. Speedwagon”
  1. All I can say is “Amen, brother.” T.W.O is definitely their standout album. However, I’d argue it was the reunion album with Cronin, “REO” that provided the kick start that culiminated in the multiplatinum “Hi-Infidelity.” Cronin had come into his own as a songwriter, matching forces with Richrath to produce a classic Midwestern rock album. Thank you for featuring REO “T.W.O”

  2. You know what, the next time I need to add something to my Amazon order to get to the $25 free shipping limit, REO TWO will get the nod.

  3. R.E.O./T.W.O. is the gold standard for that band. Read where Richrath was inspired by looking at a Time Magazine cover that said, ‘Golden Country?’ And as they say … the rest is history.

  4. R.E.O./T.W.O. is a 10 Star Classic, and is also my favorite REO LP by a mile. I was pretty much done with REO after Tunafish. There are also some very excellent songs on both follow-up Riding The Storm Out (Title Cut, Son Of A Poor Man, etc) and their next, Lost In A Dream (Title Song, Down By The Dam, etc). R.E.O./T.W.O. might just be the one LP I choose to take to the desert island if I can only pick one (or maybe Ziggy Stardust – a tough choice for me).

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