#97 Rainmakers – Tornado (1987)

rainmakers tornado

The Rainmakers popped up just a few spots back with their comeback 25th anniversary album 25 On. This post finds the Makers in a little different era….circa 1987. This was a magical time for me personally. In the spring of 1987 I was 18 years old and had just finished high school and was ready to kick the shit out of the world. So were the Rainmakers. My guess is things didn’t go exactly how either of us had it planned back then. The Rainmakers were on the cusp of stardom and trying to follow up their eponymous 1986 debut album, which though it didn’t sell well  was still widely critically acclaimed. Unfortunately instead of propelling the group to stardom, it failed to catch a wide audience.

To my ears Tornado does fall short of the first record, but not by leaps and bounds. To be fair the first record is so good it may have been impossible to top. Perhaps the decision to make “Snakedance” the single wasn’t the best. While the song is good, its far from the strongest song on the album. It is a dance-able, upbeat tune that still has Bob’s verbal gymnastics (I’m part man, part monkey, part mystery). By the way Bob, as I’m writing this it’s 18 degrees below zero here in Minneapolis and we DO wear fucking hats (I’d like to think that he may stumble upon this one day in his dotage). My personal favorite on this offering is the “Wages Of Sin”. This song could have been slipped easily onto the debut album and fit in seamlessly… both musically and lyrically. After waxing poetically about Jesus being lashed to the cross…he summarizes that the wages of sin are “all the lumber you can carry…all the nails you can bend”….brave and genius. While the song is a satirical dig at religion (If heaven is guilt, no sex and no show…then I’m not sure if I really wanna go”) , it is done with a lyrical wit that is the genius of Walkenhorst. This is the type of song that the Makers built themselves on and that made them Kansas City’s answer to the Replacements and Husker Du. More so than on the the first record Bob turns introspective with songs like “Small Circles” and “No Romance”. Both these tunes are two of my favorites on the record. While maintaining the sound and style of the band these songs delve lyrically into deeper subject matter than say…Government Cheese or Big Fat Blonde. And it works, it’s the type of stuff that makes Walkenhorst one of my favorite songwriters. Although the view of the writer seems dark and brooding ( I wished someone had warned me while I was still a young man…and saved me lots of time and money…there is No Romance) it is told more as  “matter of fact” than “oh woe is me”. There are also attempts to write hit songs…though to mixed results. Songs like “One More Summer” and “I Talk With My Hands” are certainly catchy enough but seem a little too forced. Like I said good tunes, just not great. One of the hidden gems on this offering is “The Other Side Of The World”. This is a beautifully written song that, I think, is Bob coming to grips with the groups popularity on foreign soils (I got a letter the today from Tokyo, a little Japanese girl that I’ll never know…she’s eating pizza and singing “Let My People Go”….on the other side of the world). A great way to wrap up the record.

Other Rainmakers on this blog:

#100 Rainmakers – 25 On (2011)


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