Review by Rene Bowers
It only took me 32 years to discover the band Roxanne. I didn’t grow up in Los Angeles so I wasn’t lucky enough to spend my formative years (aka The 80’s) on the Sunset Strip but I heard it was epic. So when I finally got the chance to see Roxanne live, they opened for Lynch Mob on a Sunday night at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills and I found myself more excited to see the opener Roxanne than the headliner. That almost never happens.
Roxanne started the set strong and the crowd was buzzing with anticipation. After all, it had been a long time since the LA crowd was treated to a Roxanne show. The set was a mix of old favorites like “Cherry Bay” and “Sweet Maria” and new songs like “Thin Blue Line” and “Girls Alright”. The absolute highlight of the night was when Roxanne was joined onstage by George Lynch and Andrew Freeman from Lynch Mob for the songs “Superbad” and “Go Fuck Yourself.” George even told the band, “Thanks for upstaging us” which wasn’t untrue and got a good laugh from the audience.
Roxanne’s debut record was released in 1986 and they were part of a scene that was being ceremoniously ousted by Grunge. So it wasn’t surprising that their record label didn’t go to great lengths to promote them. That’s really unfortunate because Roxanne is the real deal. Their songs are crunchy enough to appeal to the rockers and catchy enough to appeal to the mainstream. And their live show didn’t disappoint. Lead singer/guitarist Jamie Brown commanded the stage along with his sharply dressed band mates bassist Joe Infante, guitarist John Butler and drummer Dave Landry. I found myself wishing for more than a 45 minute set and contemplated going to Vegas to see them on the next stop on their tour. That’s how good they are. You can tell these guys have been playing together for years and what you hear on the record comes across in spades at the live show.
Their new album “Radio Silence” on Rat Pak Records draws you in with “Someone to Kill”. But is it the crunchy guitar riffs or the killer harmonies? I’m not sure but the song sets the tone for what’s to come. The song “Super Bad” which features George Lynch on guest guitar ups the ante with a groovy vibe. But my favorite has to be the middle finger anthem “Go Fuck Yourself” which features George Lynch and Dug Pinnick. Hearing those songs live for the first time convinced me that this is a band I need to see again.
I am already planning my next Roxanne show when they play The Canyon in Montclair in August. Do yourself a favor, pick up their album or go see them live. This is a band that deserves to be heard.
Photos by David Khorsandi
Roxanne was formed in Riverside, California in 1986 by vocalist Jamie Brown and bassist Joe Infante, joined by guitarist John Butler and drummer Dave Landry. By 1987 they had risen to the top of the heap in the LA music scene and landed a deal with Scotti Brothers Records (a now defunct subsidiary of CBS). Roxanne disbanded after a year of touring in a van with no support from the label.
Roxanne released their debut album Roxanne in February 1988.
While enjoying moderate success with the single “Cherry Bay” at AOR radio, they simultaneously rose to number 63 on the Billboard singles charts with their cover of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music“. The album was filled with mainly party rockers, and highlights such as the ballads “Over You”, “Not The Same”, “Cherry Bay” and “Can’t Stop Thinking”. The track radio found most interesting was a cover of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music”. Krescendo Records re-released the 1988 album in 2008 with a digital remastering.
In 1988 Roxanne appeared on The Late Show and performed “Play That Funky Music” and “Cherry Bay” to a live studio audience.
Roxanne was also released in Japan as Burning Through the Night with a different cover and a slightly different track listing, including two songs unheard in the US: “Burning Through the Night” and “My Way”.
Return 30 Years Later with Radio Silence: On October 26, 2018 Roxanne released their first album in 30 years, Radio Silence. It was released on Rat Pak Records. The album was preceded by four music videos (for the songs, “Super Bad,” “Someone To Kill,” “Thin Blue Line” and “Go Fuck Yourself,” the last of which featured guest appearances by dUg Pinnick of King’s X and George Lynch, formerly of Dokken).
Regarding the recording process, lead singer Jamie Brown comments, “We wanted to make a rock record that you’d want to crank in your car and drive fast with the windows down and I think we accomplished that!” Drummer Dave Landry adds, “We are all very proud of this album and are ecstatic the way it turned out…the songs, the tones and the performances. Recorded on 2-inch analog, it sounds real, it is real and truly represents the way our band sounds!”
With influences that range from Queen to Bad Company to Thin Lizzy, “Radio Silence” is best described as a perfect blend of classic rock with a modern-day edge.