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All-American Boy
Rick Derringer

Blue Sky KZ 32481
Released: November 1973
Chart Peak: #25
Weeks Charted: 31

Rick DerringerThe old litany of the man with the cigar ("C'mere kid I'm gone make you a star") has been recited so often that it might conceivably be doubted if such things ever happen in real life. Still, there's always the case of Little Ricky and the McCoys to set the record straight, with the Cadillac belonging to the production team of Feldman-Gottehrer-Goldstein and the resultant gold going to "Hang On Sloopy," a success story near-classic in its archetypal unfolding.

The McCoys kicked around for a while after their big hit, surprisingly surfacing in the progressive era with some highly-underrated records on Mercury, as well as finding a home at Steve Paul's burgeoning Scene in the heart of New York's sleaze district. The pairing must have been made in heaven, for as the McCoys died their slow death, Steve placed lead guitarist Rick in a variety of albinesque situations, joining Johnny Winter's aggregation when Mr. Rollin' and Tumblin' needed an R&R shot in the arm, moving him over to brother Edgar's funk-based unit when the time was ripe. Shortly Rick was functioning as house producer for the Paul organization, learning his way around the studio and ultimately reaping the benefits when Edgar's "Frankenstein" rolled over the charts last summer to the tune of a variety of RIAA precious metals.

Rick Derringer - All-American Boy
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Like most first albums, especially ones that may have been in gestation for many years, Rick's All-American Boy is a meaty piece of work, showing off a multitude of styles in as many production settings, presenting the cream of his recent songwriting and musical chops. In some ways this is a disadvantage, for in an attempt to cover all bases, Rick sometimes seems like he has yet to settle on a recorded personality, or to consolidate his talent in as direct a manner as possible. The album occasionally seems a trifle self-conscious, and just a shade too well thought-out; though in the undeniable professionalism and tight control Derringer exhibits over his finished product (not to mention the zest and two-fisted attack he grants his own material) such minor details are quickly shotgunned away.

Both "Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo" and "The Airport Giveth (The Airport Taketh Away)" are the album's high points. The former is a showstopper at any Johnny Winter performance, but Rick's rendition here refuses to take a back seat, lean and muscular, driven by Bobby Caldwell's galvanic drumming and Derringer's own blazing guitar. "The Airport Giveth" is a stranger breed, telling the story of Leon Russell's "Superstar" from the other side of the fence. It could've been embarrassingly sentimental or unnecessarily removed and superior; instead, the portrait drawn is effectively understated and moving, a bright new reworking of an old, old theme.

The downwind stride of the album ranges from gun-metal hard to studiedly soft, with a couple of instrumental stops thrown in for good measure. Of the rockers, "Teenage Love Affair" and the Free-like "Uncomplicated" score nicely, with a respective chorus bite that hooks like the jaws of a trap and hangs on for dear life. "Teenage Queen" (set up by the incisive boil of "Joy Ride") is a death song in ye olde tradition, virtuous even if the ending can be guessed as soon as the fated couple pull onto that "lonely gravel road." The ballads are generally lush, though not overtly so, Rick and Patti Smith's "Hold" and the ethereal "Jump, Jump, Jump" taking top honors.

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A word on the impressive production: The album sounds beautiful, each track fully realized and brazenly ornamental. Backing is provided by a host of guest artists, including Joe Walsh and Edgar himself, and the biggest surprise of all is reserved for Rick's voice, which is revealed to be a flexible and pointedly expressive plus in the ultimate triumph of this excellent debut.

- Lenny Kaye, Rolling Stone, 12/6/73.

Bonus Reviews!

Stirring, old-fashioned '50s rock'n'roll. One song is even called "Uncomplicated," and that aptly describes them all, with the better works being the melodic "It's Raining" and the quaint "Slide On Over Slinky."

- Billboard, 1973.

Derringer's first solo album, featuring great songwriting and performing, with his own version of his classic "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo." * * * *

- Cub Koda, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Rick Derringer's All American Boy is a classic power-rock album that shows inspired genius over 12 tracks, beginning with the hit "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" and continuing through pop dramas ("The Airport Giveth," "Teenage Queen"), dark ballads ("Jump, Jump, Jump" and "Hold," cowritten with Patti Smith) and gloriously hooky rock ("Slide on Over, Slinky," "Teenage Love Affair"). He even manages to sneak in two of the most infectious Latin rhythm instrumentals ever committed to tape -- "Joy Ride" and "Time Warp." * * * * *

- Christopher Scapelliti, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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