Got The Fever

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Rings

Patience is a virtue. Or so they say. Who the heck are ‘they’ anyway when someone says that?

Mike at Fusion 45 has been asking for a while now for something about The Rings, a Boston based band from the early 80’s that made it nationally with “Let Me Go".

Let me tell you, few bands, seen live, could excite me as much as The Rings did back in their heyday. I used to see them at Boston Mecca’s like The Rat, Spit, Cantones and I believe I saw them at Bunratty’s. The crushing power pop, hooks that dug deep and a tightness rarely seen out of a studio saw me going time after time and playing their freshman offering over and over. It’s one of those albums that when you hear a track off of it you transport mentally to a certain time and place.

Originally named ‘The Rings Of Saturn’, the band included Bob Gifford on bass and vocals, Mark Sutton on guitar and vocals, Mike Baker on guitar and Bob Woodbury on drums. To me, they’re another one of those ‘should have been huge’ bands from Boston that for one reason or another didn’t quite grasp the brass hook – along with ‘The Atlantics’. Shame too, because they were a quality band that didn’t need gimmicks to get the music across.

There's a great writeup of The Rings - and info on lots of other Boston bands, at a nice storage facility I found recently called Boston Rock Storybook held together by Joe Harvard. Joe's got a good rock and roll story to relay, and he's 'been there, done that', playing with the likes of Unnatural Axe (who I saw numerous times) and has even played with, and calls among his friends, Willie "Loco" Alexander (personal favorite of mine) and the great Johnathan Richmond.

Third Generation
No nonsense rock with a fast beat, superb lead that accentuates without a need to be pushy, drums that actually sound as if they’re contributing instead of being just part of the backbeat and with enough continuity but diversification of sound that pulls it all into one cohesive brawny blast.

Third Generation got nothing to say!
Second generation don’t get in the way.

We don’t ever want to take no time,
We just wanna steal it.
Don’t you ever think its gonna be a crime?
Don’t you every feel it?

Standing out lazy make you crazy.
Make you wanna scream and shout.
Never put it out never put it on,
You’re inside looking out!

I said, Third Generation got nothing to say.
Second generation don’t get in the way!

Got My Wish
Indeed, it was The Rings ability to diversify that was part of my attraction to their music.

This track was (is) probably the one I played the most frequently well into today’s writing. It almost reminds me of Alice Cooper (circa Ballad Of Dwight Frye) with an inference to being let out of the loony bin and then his hesitant peek and foray into freedom that within a short time ultimately puts him back into another stretch of Lithium heaven.

Yesterday at eight, they let me out
The door slammed with a clang.
They gave a new pair of shoes, a shirt and pants,
But I don’t they fit me quite right.
Well I think the scarf’s too tight.

Last night I walked again in the open.
Well I think it’s been about 10 years.
I don’t mind, I’ve been doing all kinds of thinking!

I got my wish last night
I got my wish last night
I got my wish last night

Side note: I use this track as one of the cool down songs after a workout. Weird writing it down, but, there it is.

Let Me Go
Anyone that reads this blog is well aware of my propensity for not highlighting a track that was popular on the radio, but for all of those not familiar with The Rings, this is the one that was played on the radio that broke them out, and I feel a disservice for not including it.

Well I been checking on you,
You been checking on me.
I been checking all over town girl,
Ill tell you what I see.

I see all the strange faces.
I hear all the strange names.
You say yes, I say no,
All my life yea!

Oh no, let me go.
Well I don’t need your suspicion, oh no!
Oh no let me go.
Oh why you being so vicious?

Does power pop, or just plain power rock, get better than this? As a composition that has you either fast pacing toward the dance arena or playing the air guitar, it won’t dissuade me from the opinion that it doesn't get much better than this.

And, thanks for your patience Mike.

The Rings: Third Generation
The Rings: Got My Wish
The Rings: Let Me Go
From: The Rings [1981]

Addendum: Special thanks to Zack and Andy who helped me listen to some of the lyrics over and over until they sounded correct (we think)!

Anyone have a line to Duke and The Drivers "What You Got"?


  • I went to see The Rings in 1981 on a whim. They had one song on the radio (Third Generation I believe). To this day it is one of the most mind-opening musical experiences I have ever had. I played that album to pieces, bought another one at a used album show, and played that one to pieces.
    This is definitely one of those "old vinyl" albums that I (not very) patiently wait for the day when it's available on CD, or even if I could find a good third copy ;-).

    BobM - Punk Keyboards

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:48 PM  

  • BobM - thanks for helping to attest to the power of seeing the Rings live!

    To those who did not have the good fortune, I say you missed one of the best live performances you might have ever seen. To those who were lucky enough, like me, I can still remember walking away with a savoring feeling that I had witnessed a performance that would be really hard to beat.

    Download and dream.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 5:32 PM  

  • Great post, WZJN,and hats off to Music Junkie for badgering you into dusting down the Rings.

    This sounds really interesting on preview, and I'm looking forward to giving these tracks some serious attention over the weekend coming.


    By Blogger ib, at 9:11 AM  

  • my band back in the day used to cover "opposites attract" and "who's she dancin' with". now those would be interesting for me to hear after almost 30 years!

    great blog.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 PM  

  • I'm enlightened to hear how many out there know more than the three I put up! The two mentioned in the above comment were hard for me to wean out of contention for writing about! "I Need Strange" and "Watch You Break" were tough for me to leave out also.

    Damn, maybe the Rings were more popular than I knew.

    Thanks for coming by - and jb also!

    By Blogger wzjn, at 9:08 AM  

  • The Rings were awesome, two great albums. Both are blogged somewhere out there on the web, might take a little searching. Try 'power pop crminals'.

    By Anonymous dwtime, at 2:56 PM  

  • Here's a link where you can download MP3's of both Rings albums.

    If you like The Rings, 20/20 was another awesome poer pop band from the late 70's early 80's.

    Now who out there has some 'live' Rings recordings?

    By Anonymous dwtime, at 1:36 PM  

  • Back in the day, WBCN used to play the I Need Strange demo all the time. After hearing The Rings live on 'BCN from Metromedia Studios, I was hooked. My recording from that live broadcast was played so much, it became chewed, broken, and repaired over and over. It showed the REAL Rings, not that keyboard laced band from the albums. (especially Rhythm Method) Two guitars, no keyboards... What a difference.

    I got lucky one night while searching the Boston Phoenix for a band to see. There was nothing worth going out to, No Atlantics, no Pastiche, and the Rings were in the studio recording their 2nd album. Well there was one ad that said surprise band and had a hand next to it (with rings on 4 fingers) playing the Inn Square Mens Bar. Being pretty stupid back then, I never figured out the Rings thing on the fingers, but we sqeezed into the BEST local show I have EVER seen and didn't move til it was over. Proof that The Rings should have released a live album instead of being forced to change what were great songs.

    Now if anyone has a copy of the Metromedia Tapes (later became Synchro Sound), please convert them to MP3, WMA, or any digital audio format. If the live tapes do exist, someone please post it here. My BASF and Scotch tape version doesn't contain one complete song, without interuption that is. Love Hemorage is probably the closest to complete and that was never released.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:54 PM  

  • I can remember seeing The Rings a few times WITH Robin Lane and the Chartbusters! A magical era for Boston- based music!!!! ska_c

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:02 AM  

  • I saw the Rings at UNH in 1980 or 1981. One of the best shows I've ever seen. I still have both of their albums and I'm trying to convert them to digital

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:46 PM  

  • I started a fanclub for them on Facebook. Do a search for The Rings Fan Club on FB and join. It's been active for about 6 months and has a measly 13 members. There have to be more Rings fans out there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:24 PM  

  • I saw The Rings live and up close a couple times at a club in Manchester, NH back in the day. Awesome sound. They certainly were a great Boston band that should have gone further.

    -Dan, Columbus OH

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:46 PM  

  • i remember seeing them open for the Kinks at the Meadowlands

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:12 AM  

  • I was a big Rings fan, saw them live where ever they were in B-town
    but I think the band was going to make it big like the Cars if it wasn't for there RCA record label who was just not into local bands and let them hang to long not releasing hits, Thanks god for COZ, BCN and CGY for playing them on heavy rotation, I tried to request them on KISS 108 and got them to play 'Let Me Go" but I loved the other songs that could have been hits if the record company would have pushed the singles?????

    By Blogger Mark, at 9:08 PM  

  • I played in a band called Hot Action Cop that was signed to Lava/Atlantic produced by Bald Evil, AKA Michael Baker...formerly of The Rings.

    By Blogger k.knipp, at 12:57 AM  

  • I remember a drummer named Matt Thurber who I thought was with the Rings. That's when I got the idea of printing an "I Need Strange" tee-shirt that did me some little good on a trip to Montreal...


    By Anonymous zanichbug, at 6:40 PM  

  • Where can I buy these albums? I've been looking for them for about 20 years. Itunes don't even have them

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:24 PM  

  • I found your blog and linked to it when I was researching my own blog post about The Rings. Such a great band! Like one of the other commenters I like the song, "Who's She Dancin' with" but I have to say I liked just about all their songs. Played that first album TO DEATH!
    Here's a link to my blog in case you want to check it out:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:02 AM  

  • Best gift for your future bride is a Solitaire Diamond Engagement Ring, as these Engagement Rings are considered as the most beautiful stylish setting. It is the one and only moment of your life and off course everyone wants to enjoy those beautiful moments with most beautiful gifts and rings.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 7:53 AM  

  • I've burned both albums of the web. Now on CD and it brings back a lot of good memories.

    By Blogger Brian Strachan, at 7:34 PM  

  • Item: RARE SIGNED The Rings Excellent Condition Album PROMOTION ONLY MCA RECORDS

    .ebay item #131569990125

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:46 AM  

  • Item: RARE SIGNED The Rings Excellent Condition Album PROMOTION ONLY MCA RECORDS

    .ebay item #131569990125

    By Blogger Jon Feins, at 7:47 AM  

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