It was 1971, I was 14, and it was the first time I had ever been to a night club. I was at The Long Branch to see The Rockets, favorites of the burgeoning and vibrant San Francisco Bay Area club scene. On they came, cocky and handsome singer Eddie Mahoney, rock solid drummer John Cuniberti, expressive guitarist Dan Alexander and innovative bassist Chris Solberg. They sounded to me like a young Alex Chilton backed up by Free and I was blown away.The Rockets, inspired by the sounds of English groups like The Move and Badfinger, built a reputation as a great band that delivered a style unique to the Bay Area. Shows were unpredictable. When he wasn't singing his heart out or standing knock-kneed and pounding on a cowbell, some of Mahoney's stage antics included showing amateur porn films, firing Roman Candles at the audience and dressing for New Year's Eve in an oversized baby diaper (which he somehow lost during the show). The group made appearances at Los Angeles's infamous Starwood Club, worked the ski resort circuit from Lake Tahoe to Sun Valley, frequented college campuses and played the occasional concert venue but never managed to move beyond that.
Off-stage the band focused on songwriting and recording. At that time, independent recording studios were starting to emerge in the Bay Area. For the first time, a band like The Rockets could walk into a private studio and leave a few hours later with a demo tape. That is what happened in 1972 at a studio called Roy Chen's. Tucked away in an alley in San Francisco's Chinatown, Chen's was the studio equivalent of the notorious Sam Wo restaurant. The results of this session were two tracks entitled "High School QT" and "Morning Song." Shortly thereafter, under the wing of recording engineer Tom Lubin, The Rockets recorded four more tracks in a tiny residential studio in Ojai California: "Need More Time," " Do Ya," "Somebody Help Me" and "So Excited." Lubin, who at the time was working for CBS records, enthusiastically presented the recordings to his boss who rejected the band's demos with a one sentence letter stating that "The Rockets are not ready." This discouraging news led to internal strife and by mid-1973 the band dissolved. Ironically, in 1976, Mahoney, now called Eddie Money, signed a recording contract with CBS records and produced a string of hits.
In 1978 Eddie Money reunited for a recording session with The Rockets at Dan Alexander's Tewksbury studio. The songs they cut, "Can't Keep A Good Man Down" and "Highway", were demos for his second CBS album Life For The Taking. Both appear in this collection.
In a more just universe, The Rockets got signed, were big stars and ended up staples of classic rock radio. When I listen to these tracks I believe that should have happened. Jon RubinLos Angeles, CA September, 2009