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RASCAL REPORTERS

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Rascal Reporters biography
Biography taken from the band's website:

"From the ashes of "Raw Meat" (an earlier, "rock/noise" 2-man group, with musicians Steve Gore, and David Johnson; operating during the late 1960's/early '70's), rose the Rascal Reporters in 1974. Steve Gore remained; David Johnson was replaced by Gore's high school buddy, Steve Kretzmer. Both musicians shared similar interests in life and music, both were composers and musicians, and both just happened to play keyboards and drums. A perfect musical union was formed that continues to this day, and beyond.Both Steve's were born in 1958 and raised in suburban Detroit (Oak Park, Ml). Both Steve's are left-handed. During the years 1975 and 1976, the group literally were writing and recording one song per day, everyday, throughout both years. A 12-CD box-set of unreleased music could be culled just from these two years alone. Steve Gore, renowned for never erasing any piece of music from any tape at any time or any year, is largely responsible for the existence of the 30-year "bottomless" tape vault known as the "RRkives."The first attempt to "go public" was in 1978, with a planned 45rpm picture-sleeve release, "My Name"/"Ricky And His Dad." The release was cancelled due to lack of funding, though the two songs will appear on the "Rascalities 1974-1999" 12-CD box set, to be discussed further on.Public exposure finally came in 1980, when Archie Patterson of Eurock then based in California, released the Rascal Reporters' full-length "cassette album," "Freaks Obscure" to the world. This was one of Eurock's very first releases in the relatively new era of "group self-produced albums on cassette." This was immediately followed-up with "We're God," also a Eurock cassette release, and also issued in 1980. These two releases established a small, but strong world-wide cult following for the band. People suddenly wanted to hear more of this strange, bizarre, often obscene ("Freaks Obscure"), though definitely rooted in the British Progressive Rock movement of the late 70's, Rascal Reporter music. The group complied, issuing a 45rpm single in 1981, and a Landmark LP in 1984, "Ridin' On A Bummer," which boasted guests Fred Frith, and Tim Hodgkinson; their first reuniting since the break-up of their group, Henry Cow, in 1978. The Reporters' popularity increased greatly after this release. The Rascal Reporters' legacy was permanently cemented in 1988, when they released their "masterwork," "Happy Accidents" LP. The musicians th...
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Buy RASCAL REPORTERS Music


Ridin on a BummerRidin on a Bummer
CD Baby 2005
Audio CD$7.95
$14.14 (used)
Foul-Tempered ClavierFoul-Tempered Clavier
Pleasant Green Records 2006
Audio CD$13.99
$13.95 (used)
Purple EntrapmentPurple Entrapment
Wafer Face
Audio CD$19.98
$19.75 (used)
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RASCAL REPORTERS discography


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RASCAL REPORTERS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 2 ratings
Freaks Obscure
1980
2.10 | 2 ratings
We´re God
1980
3.05 | 2 ratings
Ridin´ on a Bummer
1984
4.02 | 4 ratings
Happy Accidents
1988
4.00 | 2 ratings
Purple Entrapment
1995
4.15 | 8 ratings
The Foul-Tempered Clavier
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Mind Boggles
2008

RASCAL REPORTERS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

RASCAL REPORTERS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

RASCAL REPORTERS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Bonus Tracks, Vol. 1
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
Bonus Tracks, Vol. 2
2013

RASCAL REPORTERS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Psychlops (Complete)
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Elegant Decay (Live at Oak Park High 1976)
2013

RASCAL REPORTERS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ridin´ on a Bummer by RASCAL REPORTERS album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Ridin´ on a Bummer
Rascal Reporters RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The two cassettes early in their career draw some publicity for Rascal Reporters, which were slowly becoming more well-known in underground circles.The ''Guns for Jerry's kids / Beatrice'' single was issued in 1981, giving also birth to the group's own Hebbardesque Records, and this was followed in 1984 by Rascal Reporters's first proper release, the ''Ridin' on a bummer'' LP.Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer are supported by a few guets here, you should notice the presence of Fred Frith, Tim Hodgkinson and The Muffins Dave Newhouse.

Ok, Rascal Reporters' music remained extremely chaotic in this and pretty diverse with numerous influences, but for one strange reason ''Ridin' on a bummer'' sounds a bit more compact and consistent compared to their early material.While the cheesy computer-keyboards and vocal manipulations are still present, the focus now is on composition and actually the Progrssive Rock influence is very strong to the point the guys now even flirt with groups like YES or HANDS at moments.Of course the main comparison is still THE MUFFINS and Rascal Reporters appear to step on the footprints of these veterans, adding their personality and coming up with an incredible mix of Classic Prog, RIO, Fusion and sound effects.No surprise the most complex and musically flexible composition of the album is titled ''RIO'' and spans at over 15 minutes, a unique combination of soft piano interludes, symphonic movements, Fusion terrorism with complex workouts based on percussion, clarinet and synthesizers and frenetic, nervous synth explorations.An intelligent, if not a bit of an excessive display of talent.The rest of the album sounds like a Classic Prog group moving often into MIRIODOR-like grounds, especially when the clarinet takes over and the music becomes jazzier and thus a bit more complex, but there are also some more melodic themes in here, especially during the opening minutes with ''Elements'' and ''The hill'', which contain quirky, symphonic keyboards and romantic singing lines.

Rascal Reporters were on to something good here.Their schizophenic, experimental mix of styles is not for everybody, but fans with open ears can eventually taste some more consistent material by the American duo, which belonged among the most adventurous groups of the 80's.Recommended, the album has been reissued both via the ''Ridin on a lavender freak'' compilation and its celebrating 20th Anniversary Edition with plenty of bonus stuff.

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 We´re God by RASCAL REPORTERS album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.10 | 2 ratings

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We´re God
Rascal Reporters RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars After finally releasing their first ever work, Rascal Reporters followed almost immediately ''Freaks Obscure'' with another cassette on the Eurorock label.This was also released in 1980, entitled ''We're God'', followed the next year by the single ''Guns for Jerry's Kids / Beatrice''.Both the cassette and single tracks along with four bonus pieces were re-released in 1997 on CD by the unkown US label Wafer.

It is reasonable that ''We're God'' has a sound extremely comparable to ''Freaks obscure'', as the two cassettes were released with only a few months break.The original album contains fourteen compositions, from tiny instrumental pieces to lengthy demanding compositions, flirting with the likings of Jazz Rock , Avant-Prog and R.I.O., again delivering influences from THE MUFFINS, GENTLE GIANT and FRANK ZAPPA in a stylistically extreme package.The music is pretty good if speaking for Gore and Kretzmer's performances, once more though it remains very untight and over the top as a whole.The vocals have often a humurous and even cartoon-ish edge, on the contrary the instrumental moments are pretty serious and often captivating, full of complex themes and multiple breaks.It is based on obscure, often dual keyboard textures, frenetic piano lines and strong use of melodica that adds the R.I.O. touches here and there, ranging from complicated, almost nonsense themes to more harmonic and refined moments.Among this basic style of music there are also moments, where the duo chooses to offer noisy synth-drenched material or softer soundscapes either based on piano or (again) on synthesizers.

Again the final feeling is mixed and unconveincing.This duo was made for great things, but they stand next to themselves with much of this album delivered in inconsistent mannerisms, not to mention the average sound quality.Pitty, because often you get some sort of pre-ECHOLYN feeling listening to their material.A bit better than their debut, but still recommended only to fans of unusual Avant Prog/R.I.O. stuff...2.5 stars.

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 Freaks Obscure by RASCAL REPORTERS album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.00 | 2 ratings

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Freaks Obscure
Rascal Reporters RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars High school friends and multi-instrumentalists Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer started Rascal Reporters in 1974 in Detroit.The first years the duo concentrated on writing original material, much of it never saw the light actually.In 1978 they had a 45rprm single ready to be released, but lack of funding cancelled the dream for Gore and Kremtzer.Eventually Archie Patterson of California-based Eurock gave the duo a chance to release a cassette entitled ''Freaks obscure'' in 1980.

Great title to say the least as this album is both freaky and obscure with elegant and harmonic pieces rapidly destroyed by sound effects and weird distorted vocals to make Rascal Reporters an inventive but also questionable act.The work is divided in 16 short pieces and it is really hard to follow not because of the demanding musicianship but mainly because of its schezophenic atmosphere.''Freaks obscure'' really suffers for about half of its pieces (and maybe even more) where dull, cartoon-like vocals take over a weird musicianship, sometimes led by repetitive keyboards, others by distorted guitar sounds, programmed sounds and unbearable tape effects.When music takes over though, I can recognize a pair of trully talented musicians, where complexity meets harmony, with tracks slightly influenced by Classic Prog, Canterbury School in the vein of THE MUFFINS and definitely strong RIO leanings, recalling the great MIRIODOR band.Double keyboard/synth attacks, harmonic melodica parts, xylophones and furious drumming complete a nice prog image for Gore and Kremtzer, while when they sing over clean vovals they also remind a lot of GENTLE GIANT.What a pity that this material is barely 20 minutes of music.Among this material one can find also a couple of mellow pieces with an evident Classical nature in a Chamber Music style, these are decent as well.

Talented duo with an over-the-top debut, heavily but rather unsuccesfully tending to present the most crazy part of their personality.The instrumental parts though have lot to offer.''Freaks Obscure'' is contained in the 2000 ''Ridin on a Lavender Freak'' compilation, along with the 3rd Rascal Reporters' release ''Ridin' on a Bummer''.Go for this set instead of chasing an original cassette copy.This one definitely belongs among the collectors' preferences but not among the average prog fan's albums' list.

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 Happy Accidents by RASCAL REPORTERS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.02 | 4 ratings

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Happy Accidents
Rascal Reporters RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Rascal Reporters is the name of this US underground duo who developed a big (albeit marginal) career devoted to the constant reshaping of avant-garde progressive rock, mostly based on a mixture of Zappa, free jazz, RIO, krautrock and electronic experimentation. The RIO factor states a light-weight humor spin to the original European germination, not unlike other US bands from the late 70s and early 80s such as Cartoon and Pocket Orchestra. I personally had left the opportunity to do research on this band until I heard about one of its headmasters' death (Steve Gore), so "Happy Accidents", the band's fourth effort became my first RR experience. A great experience, indeed, which demanded attention and a sense of adventure from me. This album's original repertoire consisted of five tracks: the first three were grouped under the 'Weigh-In On the Weigh-Out' series, while the remaining two conformed the 'Trucks' series. 'Pilgrim's Pride' kicks off the album with a patently playful overtone, similar to some TV series jingle. Then, from out of nowhere, a lone flute state a whole different dynamic that paves the way for a frantic display of dissonant (yet not disturbing) polyphonic phrases. The frantic factor becomes enhanced later, when a new motif arrives and states an exciting mixture of free jazz and Art Bears-style RIO. This sort of bizarre successions is the stereotype that the band chooses to create its own musical voice: it seems that the duo's main interest is to utilize music as a tool of Dadaist humor, surrealistic logic and candid rebellion against the bourgeoisie conceptions of art. Moving on with the album's tracklist, 'The Chalky Substance Variations' follows this strategy, although the longer room for the motifs' development and the augmentation of the jazz- oriented element seem to create a more relaxed landscape for the duo and guests' deliveries. The presence of a recurrent joyful motif gives unity to this tracklist's first half. 'Karen's Chalky Pilgrim' closes down the 'Weigh-In On the Weigh-Out' trilogy, with a blatant use of all party music clichés: Charleston, circus, vaudeville, TV jingles. All the way until the main motif's reprise that works as the coda, the musicians display a sense of pleasant jolly folly. The album's original second half starts with the 10 ½ minute long 'Thunderstruck', full of twists and turns that compellingly show how efficient is a mixture of Zappa's craziest side, Samla Mammas Manna and Art Bears. Even though there era moments in which the musicians reinstate the sort of agility that was prominent in the album's first half, it is clear that this track's overall mood is focused on tension and deconstruction. 'Moonstruck' bears a ludic vivacity that somehow brings us back to track 2. The air of pleasant jolly folly is pertinently ornamented with more serene moods, which are provided in the interlude: this one features an introspective use of dissonant developments. The caustic elaboration of some instrumental sources may remind us of Art Bears (again), but also some stuff created by Faust during their golden years. A few second after the 8 ¾ mark, the band indulges in a brief exercise on musical chaos before getting to the circus- spirited coda. This is how the original tracklist ends. Now, the CD edition included 4 bonus tracks, with the first two being vignettes in which the band mixes free jazz flows and musique concrete. 'Another Excerpt from Psychlops' is a semi- ballad that finds the band bringing in some Canterburyish elements, without letting go of the RIO factor (a-la "Leg End"-era Henry Cow). The last bonus track, 'Stabbin' at Air', states an impressive 25+ minute duration. Experimental with a pronounced pleasant edge, complex yet not radically obtuse, not easy listening yet still bearing some accessibility, this piece can be described as an amalgam of Caravan, Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Supersister and Cartoon. That's all there is, as the Gentle Giant people would say. Well, a band that can afford to have members from Dr. Nerve, Univers Zero and 5UU's as special guests has to be interesting (at least, a priori) - in my book, Rascal Reporters is a very interesting band, a mandatory item in any avant-prog lover's collection of desert island albums. At least, "Happy Accidents" is.

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 Happy Accidents by RASCAL REPORTERS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.02 | 4 ratings

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Happy Accidents
Rascal Reporters RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

4 stars Back around 1990, give or take a year or so, I happened to be on an early Internet forum with a bunch of other musicians (at least one of whom is in a band list on this site). We found that many of us owned keyboard sequencers, and decided to untertake an unusual (we thought) project. We would sequence some tracks, and send them to the next musician in line, who would add to the song, and pass it along. The result was pretty weird, but very disjointed. I played a tape of the song for musician/music journalist Michael Bloom, who told me that another band had been doing something similar.

This is at least the second album where The Rascal Reporters, Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer would lay down tracks, and send them to other musicians. Their final results were far better than ours. But then it certainly helps that the other musicians were from such notable bands as Dr. Nerve, The 5UU's. Motor Totemist Guild, The Muffins and Univers Zero.

Each side of the album is a suite of songs. And the one thing I notice the most is that at the points where the music is the most melodic, there is a strong resemblance to the Canterbury style of Hatfield and the North. But the music doesn't stay there. Each song veers into wonderfully bizarre RIO excursions. And all of it works quite well.

Side two, the suite called Trucks, to me is the better side. The songs are much more experimantal. But all are beautiful.

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 The Foul-Tempered Clavier by RASCAL REPORTERS album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.15 | 8 ratings

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The Foul-Tempered Clavier
Rascal Reporters RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars All I know is I like it

I always feel way over my head when writing about certain genres whose histories I'm not all that up on. Thankfully Rascal Reporters do not strike me as the kind of guys to look down their noses at those of us who like Who albums. While I'm absolutely no expert on this kind of weirdo music, and while my favorite Zappa is the early stuff, even I know this is a phenomenal recording. My question is, with all of the avant-RIO fans we have around these parts, how in the hell is this album not worshiped around here? Geoff Logdon's and his Pleasant Green Records deserve huge kudos for the high quality CD issue of this modern classic. Rascal Reporters (the duo of Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer) were formed in 1974 in Michigan and have released a handful of albums over the years, influenced by the likes of Zappa, Henry Cow, Beatles, Gentle Giant, Egg, Soft Machine, The Residents, Gryphon, Stackridge, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, The Muffins, Burt Bacharach, Bela Bartok, PFM, Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson, U-Totem, Bread, The Regeneration, Herman Szobel, and Magma, according to their official bio. Sadly, founding Rascal Steve Gore passed away in 2009 in an unfortunate accident.

"Rascal Reporters are a quirky duo from Michigan that have been recording since the mid-seventies. On their sixth album, 2001's "The Foul-Tempered Clavier," their Gentle Giant & Zappa influences really shine through their dense & witty instrumental compositions." -Music by Gentle Giant Fans

"The complexity of the compositions and ideas here will thrill and astonish fans of rehearsal intensive rock. The opening track is so wonderful that even at 2:15, it's almost alone worth the price of the album." -Cuneiform

"If memory serves, I met Steve Gore during a mid afternoon high school fire drill. Out in the parking lot I held a copy of 'Uncle Meat.' As if somebody would want to steal this record from my school desk! We conversed, and quickly became friends." -Steve Kretzmer

The music of "The Foul-Tempered Clavier" seems to attempt to merge the most free forms of avant music and rock/jazz/Canterbury with pleasing melodies. For all the craziness that ensues in these songs there is that same desire to enjoy music that Zappa or Supersister had. The RR's never cross the line into unlistenable murk or dissonance, there is always something pleasant in the melodic sense fighting for the right to exist. As complex as it can get, there is also a minimalist or sparse tendency which makes things easy to grasp. Here they are joined by guest musician (and some say unofficial third member) Dave Newhouse who contributes wonderful brass and woodwind performances, as well as co-writing a few numbers. Mostly instrumental, the music of FTC was about 5 years in the making according to the liner notes. The album is dedicated to Frank Zappa.

The basic song structures are built on keyboards and drums/percussion with significant doses of Newhouse's brass and woodwinds. There is some guitar but it never dominates. The tracks develop into brisk jams with great interplay between members ("it's always a pleasure to work with a musician who's influenced your own writing" -S. Gore). The music is quirky and smart, filled with humor certainly but more important a great joy for creative performance. Sharp-witted runs and counterpoint fill the songs with the occasional drop of a part that sounds quite traditional, or even a bit of pop standard you will recognize, then it will shift again to drum solo or some other completely different line of thought. "Shoe Salad" features these amazingly fast keyboard runs from Kretzmer which were performed in real time, no sequencing. On the flip side, "Efrem Cymbalist, Jr" intentionally attempts to challenge the limits of the sequencing tools they used at the time. According to Gore, they did succeed is maxing out to the point where some of the notes "refused to play." Very chaotic listening, but pieces like this are balanced with more psyche-soothing tracks, the blending of the album's personalities was very successful. "Klezmer's Ragu" is purportedly what the Johnny Carson theme would have sounded like had it been written by Kretzmer/Newhouse. "The Cymbalist" is another favorite, a 10-minute "attempt to create a structured time-signature-defiant piece of music" which can sound as simple as a game-show theme but ultimately strings together an unbelievable quantity of various musical ideas. I think I even heard a Carpenters reference in there. Epic spirit in that one.

The album closes with Steve Gore's haunting "Tomorrow" which is a complete change of pace. This is very 60s sounding storytelling that sounds like something McCartney would have written in 1967, coming close to the vibe of "She's Leaving Home." Even a certain bit of Syd Barrett feeling to it. It's a beautiful and affecting piece about a woman suddenly left alone, dealing with loneliness, with a psych-flavored distant vocal, soft acoustic guitar, and sad high brass notes.

As I said, I'm no expert on this stuff so I hope one of our avant-experts will give it the proper critical review it deserves. But if I were a Zappa/G.Giant freak or a big "avant-prog" fan, I'd be running to track down a copy of this CD while you still can, it is currently easy to find. Four bonus tracks from the 1970s are also included from the RR vault. My sincere condolences to Steve Kretzmer for the no doubt unbearable loss of his long time musical partner and friend. Reading Gore's liner notes and some of the info on the web, it is apparent that the Rascal Reporters was very special to these two guys, more than just "a band", a great friendship as well.

I'm much more impressed with "heart" than any other aspect of music, and this album is filled with heart and DIY attitude. What the Minutemen did for "punk" music, the Rascal Reporters do for "avant-prog" (this album reminds me of "Double Nickels on the Dime" in spirit). Great joy, interesting songs, and no compromise-a special recording.

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