'Hooked on a Rose', which was the first Rose album, is a rather pleasant blend of folksy ballads and the same sort of vaguely American-sounding blues rock that bands like Wishbone Ash, Home and Help Yourself peddled during the seventies, but in those cases with a bit more commercial success.
This record was produced by former Deep Purple producer John Stewart but sound nothing like a Deep Purple album; maybe a little like a tamed-down Rainbow record, but definitely not Deep Purple. The songs are mostly short and seem to be more promos than complete works, which I suspect is what most of them actually were. The mixing is also a bit disjointed with several tracks being louder and more primitive-sounding than others, as if some of the record were produced on eight tracks and others on four. Not sure if that's true but it does sound that way.
Like I said, these are mostly blues-based tunes, particularly songs like "Hex", "Wonder Wings", "Upon Parting" and the jam-based "Love will always be there". The lyrics are rather shallow and mostly meaningless, but at times the band offers some solid two- and three- part harmonies that are worth a listen.
Scattered in between the barre chords (and power riffs of "Love...") are a handful of pretty decent ballads, the most noteworthy of which are the almost prog-sounding "Lone Theme" which features lots of organ work and sort of existential lyrics; the acoustic "Train to You" with outstanding vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar work; and the very catchy throwback- pop tune "All I Really Need".
Overall this is a likeable album, though certainly not progressive by any stretch of the imagination (nor did the band ever claim to be to my knowledge). The original GAS Records pressing is the only one available as far as I know, and while it's not exactly a collectors item it's also not all that easy to find. Worth a listen if you manage to get your hands on a copy, and I would say a three (out of five) star effort (actually I just did say that). This is as good as the band would get though, as their next two albums strayed very far into arena-rock territory. In fact, a couple of these guys would go on to form the cock-rock band Toronto in the early eighties, which won't surprise anyone who hears the last two Rose albums that were released in the late seventies. Stick with this one and you'll be left with at least a decent opinion of the band.
Ron Glatley: keyboards, guitars, percussion, vocals
Brian Allen: guitars, vocals
Gary Lalonde: bass, vocals
Ken King: drums, percussion, vocals
This band formed in Brentwood, Ontario. Their album, which was recorded in Toronto and housed in a childish cover, ranged from the soft, melodic guitar ballad Train To You to the hard rocker Love Will Always Be There. In between there's Long Lonesome Road, a glam orientated boogie with a sax solo, Lone Theme and What's Happening, two Procol Harum-like tracks (the first organ-driven; the second with string arrangements), the soft-rocker All I Really Need and the mellow Upon Parting. The outstanding tracks are the mid-tempo In Between; Hex, which veered towards harder rock and featured good organ and guitar work and the psychedelically-tinged Wonder Wings, with fine guitar leads. Overall it's a satisfying album. In 1977 the band, with a different drummer (James Fox), released two further albums on Polydor: Taste Of Neptune and Judgement Day. James (or Jim) Fox was The James Gang's drummer and, after Rose's demise, along with Brian Allen, formed Toronto in 1980.