At 45 I have been listening rabidly to rock music for over 35 years – I AM classic rock. If it came out in the late-’60s or ’70s, I pretty much know it, but I have to admit all I remember about Bloodrock are their album covers. Barry Stoller passionately seeks to rectify that:
- “I still have dreams about Bloodrock. It’s always in slow motion and the band is starting to play and I’m in back still trying to put my drumkit together. I’ve concluded there is an absence of resolution and conclusion that is profound and I would be willing to bet that all 6 of us have some form of the same dream” (Rick Cobb, May 7 2003).
In those dark insecure days following the 9/11 attacks, I remember the moment a crack of light – a little unintended levity – emerged, however briefly. The Clear Channel radio conglomerate published a list of 150 songs ‘best avoided’ by its zillions of affiliates in the immediate wake of 9/11.
There were some that were apparently considered too ideologically amped (Barry McGuires’ ‘Eve of Destruction’), too flippant (Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’) and, to the outrage of liberals everywhere, simply too hopeful (Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Trouble Water’). As amusing as the list was, I was thunderstruck to note an incredible omission: Bloodrock’s ‘DOA.’
‘DOA,’ a heavy metal chronicle of an airplane crash’s bloody aftermath is, after all, the supreme candidate for a ‘forbidden’ 9/11 tune. ‘I remember – we were flying along, and hit something in the air; laying here, looking at the ceiling, someone lays a sheet across my chest…’ And so on – with shrieking sirens – until the vocalist’s last gruesome gasp.
Whew! How could Clear Channel have omitted ‘DOA’? Just because it’s been forgotten for decades is no excuse. No station has played ‘Eve of Destruction’ since the Johnson administration, so the list was more an aesthetic document than a real guide to censorship (DJ’s haven’t been permitted to play songs on a whim since Reagan took office). Talk about lost fame.
I’ve always loved underdog bands and in such negative sweepstakes Bloodrock is a major contender. How underdog is Bloodrock? On Grand Funk Railroad’s box anthology, the booklet’s opening photo shows the boys from Flint embarking on yet another stadium-shaking US tour, standing proudly in front of a GFR jet, surrounded by their ‘road crew.’ Whoops – half of the ‘road crew’ shown is their perennial openers, Bloodrock. Ouch.
Like Grand Funk Railroad (with whom they share an association through being initially produced by the infamous hype-meister Terry Knight), 1999 was the year their long-neglected canon was (finally) reissued. That summer, a fan convention got three of the former members together for a one-off ‘reunion’ set in a small Dallas club. Bad timing, dudes! Unless you happened to live in Belgrade, the final year of the Clinton administration was completely lacking in the vital sturm-ung-drang necessary for the group who gave the world the ultimate death anthem. No, late 2001 would have been much better.
….9/11 was big and it demanded a big song. ‘Eve of Destruction,’ ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ even ‘Bridge Over Trouble Water’ were not bad, but not nearly big enough. The forbidden Clear Channel tunes fell woefully short.
For my money, a Bloodrock reunion singing ‘DOA’ (‘to benefit the survivors of the 9/11 attacks,’ of course) would have been an atomic-sized hit. Tasteless, disrespectful and vaguely subversive? Sure, exactly in the spirit of the song was when it charted #36 on the AM dial (in January 1971) – only 10 times more tasteless, disrespectful and vaguely subversive, all the better to keep up with today’s youth.
….Looking at Bloodrock’s particular brand of unpatriotic nihilism, it wouldn’t much matter if they knew or didn’t know what sort of vein they were tapping into with ‘DOA’ (and later releases).
The cultural manifestation of society is erected by and reflects the material basis supporting society – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it understands why it’s doing so. Reinforcement theory: get a reward for leaning in one direction and, sure enough, another lean in the same direction follows. Bloodrock didn’t create the current, they were merely a fascinating display of the current.
‘DOA’ was their only radio hit. They produced a string of great LPs – each selling less than before as the band grew increasingly artistic and ambitious. The free fall was precipitous… commercial oblivion… breakup… bitterness… day jobs…
And that’s just part of Chapter 1 – fascinating.