Rick Derringer has had a long career. From being a member of the McCoys (of ‘Hang On Sloopy’ fame), to sterling work with Edgar and Johnny Winter during their glory years, to releasing many solo albums, there’s plenty to enjoy. ‘All American Boy’, Derringer’s first solo outing from 1974 is one of his best (though I would argue that the first half of his solo career, up to 1980 is well worth investigation).
Kicking off with the evergreen classic ‘Rock N Roll, Hoochie Koo’ (Derringer’s best known solo recording), you’ll have a fair idea of where the next forty minutes is headed.
‘Joy Ride’ is a short high-gear instrumental. The drum sound here is excellent and while the overall effect is unashamedly 70s, this is the sound of a band of musicians at the top of their game. On the other hand, ‘Cheap Tequila’ is never a track I find myself eager to listen to. It sounds like it was designed as fun, but in the end, takes itself too seriously. It has a southern rock meets country feel and although jaunty, is never destined for classic status.
‘Teenage Queen’ is soft around the edges with a slightly west coast appeal. It’s typical of other songs Derringer released in this vein, but it’s still great listening, with beautiful vocals, subtle guitar work and nice orchestration to flesh out the sound. ‘Hold’ follows a similar pattern, again beautifully orchestrated, but the final product seems more polished, with a definite nod to the genius of Todd Rundgren. Definitely a contender for the album’s best track.
‘Uncomplicated’ is simple, stompy American rock, following a similar path to ‘Rock N Roll, Hoochie Koo’ and while ‘The Airport Giveth’ follows a similar formula to the Todd Rundgren inspired material, there’s something a bit less focused, giving it a slightly dated feel. Though somehow, possibly due to exposure to a fair amount of Rundgren, Carole King et al, I still quite like it. ‘Jump Jump Jump’ is pure genius, seeing Derringer explore a more spacious, bluesy style, though not up to the blues levels he’d go to after his early 80s sabbatical. For best results, check out the blistering live version of this from 1980’s ‘Face To Face’ LP.
The quirkiness of ‘Teenage Love Affair’ again goes for the same effect as ‘Uncomplicated’, but remains one of the rare times where this collection of songs misses the mark. ‘Time Warp’ is a driving instrumental clocking in at just under three minutes, though due to the intensity of the arrangement it feels longer. It sounds like the underscore for a car chase in a 70s cop film, merged with guitar riffs which tip the hat to ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’ by prog-rock behemoths Yes. ‘Slide on Over Slinky’ a pop-blues, the kind at which Derringer often excelled throughout the decade, is a welcome addition here.
‘All American Boy’ is a great solo debut, paving the way for other Derringer releases throughout the 1970s, most of which have something to recommend them. If you’ve enjoyed this and haven’t yet done so, check out 1980’s ‘Face To Face’: which although patchy, contains the aforementioned superb live take of ‘Jump Jump Jump’ and the wonderful pop of ‘Runaway’.