The Roches (album)

The Roches is the 1979 eponymous debut trio album by The Roches, produced by Robert Fripp, who also plays guitar and Fripperies (a variation of his Frippertronics). Also playing on the album are Tony Levin and Jimmy Maelen of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel fame.

The Roches
The Roches - The Roches.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 1979
RecordedSeptember–November 1978
StudioThe Hit Factory, New York City
GenreFolk
Length39:53
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerRobert Fripp
The Roches chronology
Seductive Reasoning
(1975)
The Roches
(1979)
Nurds
(1980)

BackgroundEdit

Paul Simon had been so impressed by Maggie and Terre Roche that he invited them to sing harmony on the song "Was a Sunny Day" on his album There Goes Rhymin' Simon. He helped them get a publishing deal and a record contract, and even produced one song on the duo’s 1975 album Seductive Reasoning. The label advised the sisters to "wear hipper clothes." Terre Roche later said:

We were humiliated... We wanted to get out of the whole situation. We had a friend in Hammond, Louisiana, who was running a kung fu school. We gave up our apartment and told the record company, ‘We’re not going to promote the record anymore; we’re going away for a while.’ This was two weeks after the record came out. Maggie wrote the "Hammond Song" about the whole experience.[1]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic      [2]
Rolling Stone      [3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide      [4]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[5]
The Village VoiceA[6]

The album was well received. John Rockwell in The New York Times wrote that the album was "... the best pop record of 1979 thus far. In fact, it's so superior that it will be remarkable if another disk comes along to supplant it as best album of the year."[7] Rockwell subsequently picked it as the best album of that year, stating that it was "... also the scariest record, because the Roches probe emotions and even fears that most pop — most art, even — does not approach."[8] Jay Cocks in Time magazine wrote that the Roches music "is startling, lacerating and amusing".[9] The Village Voice critic Robert Christgau said "Robert Fripp's austere production of this witty, pretty music not only abjures alien instrumentation but also plays up the quirks of the Roches' less-than-commanding voices and acoustic guitars. Thus it underscores their vulnerability and occasional desperation and counteracts their flirtations with the coy and the fey. The result is not a perfect record, but rather one whose imperfections are lovingly mitigated."[6] It was voted #11 for the year in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.[10]

It has continued to be highly rated. AllMusic characterized it as a "mischievous and highly original folk blend".[2] Rating the album 10/10 in the Spin Alternative Record Guide, Ann Powers praised Fripp's guitar accompaniment and spare "audio vérité" production but noted his efforts "would be merely a gorgeous surface if not for the songs themselves. Suzzy and Terre each contribute winners, but it's Maggie whose genius dominates."[5] The Rolling Stone Album Guide gave it five stars and called it an "unprecedented thrill" that was "spare, loose, pointed" and equating it to the Greenwich Village version of the New York punk explosion.[4]

Cover versionsEdit

"The Married Men" was covered by Phoebe Snow on her 1979 album Against the Grain.[11]

"Hammond Song" was covered by The Colourfield on their 1985 debut album Virgins and Philistines and by Whitney on their 2020 album Candid.[12] It was also covered by Salyu x Salyu on the 2012 album, “s(o)un(d)beams+”

Track listingEdit

  1. "We" (Suzzy Roche, Terre Roche, Margaret Roche) – 2:35
  2. "Hammond Song" (Margaret Roche) – 5:46
  3. "Mr. Sellack" (Terre Roche) – 4:03
  4. "Damned Old Dog" (Margaret Roche) – 4:07
  5. "The Troubles" (Suzzy Roche, Terre Roche, Margaret Roche) – 3:27
  6. "The Train" (Suzzy Roche) – 3:30
  7. "The Married Men" (Margaret Roche) – 4:32
  8. "Runs in the Family" (Terre Roche) – 3:29
  9. "Quitting Time" (Margaret Roche) – 4:19
  10. "Pretty and High" (Margaret Roche) – 4:05

PersonnelEdit

MusiciansEdit

ProductionEdit

  • "Produced in Audio Verite by Robert Fripp"
  • Engineer: Ed Sprigg
  • Assistant Engineer: Jon Smith
  • Recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City during September, October and November 1978

Other creditsEdit

  • Art direction: Peter Whorf
  • Design: Brad Kanawyer
  • Photography: Gary Heery

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Maggie Roche: The Hidden Heart of The Roches". pastemagazine.com. January 24, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Cook, Stephen. The Roches at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 December 2005.
  3. ^ "The Roches > Album Review". Rolling Stone (292). May 31, 1979.[dead link]
  4. ^ a b Soults, Franklin (2004). "The Roches". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 694–695. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  5. ^ a b Powers, Ann (1995). "The Roches". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 334–335. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 30, 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  7. ^ Rockwell, John (April 1, 1979). "The Roches—A Highly Promising Pop Trio". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  8. ^ Rockwell, John (December 21, 1979). "Pop Life: A Critic Picks top 10 For '79". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  9. ^ Cocks, Jay (May 7, 1979). "Valentines from the Danger Zone". Time. p. 64. Archived from the original on 21 January 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  10. ^ "The 1979 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. January 28, 1980. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  11. ^ Pareles, Jon (21 January 2017). "Maggie Roche, Who Harmonized With Her Singing Sisters, Dies at 65". nytimes.com. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Whitney Announce New Album Candid, Share Cover of the Roches' "Hammond Song": Listen". pitchfork.com. July 15, 2020.

Further readingEdit