THE RAINMAKERS – 25 On
It’s been 25 years since Kansas City based The Rainmakers released their self titled debut album. Perhaps more importantly it’s been 15 years since this fabulous roots rock band released their last album "Skin". "25 ON" starts with a goose bump déjà vu moment: "1, 2, 3…" which takes the listener straight back to the debut album. From there on the similarities pretty much end. The Rainmakers’ long awaited comeback album is a testimony of the band’s, and perhaps even more so front man and songwriter Bob Walkenhorst’s musical development. There is a raw and in these days rare genuinity flowing through this album. There has been made no attempt to sound like The Rainmakers according to previous albums or to recreate the band in any way. The musical and lyrical honesty is obvious. Fans who have followed the band and front man Bob Walkenhorst for the past 25 years will notice that "25 ON" is colored by the whole musical career of the band and the singer/songwriter.
"25 ON" starts off with, in my view, the album’s strongest track. "Given Time" I feel sums up Bob Walkenhorst’s state of mind through both lyrics and music. This song is all about growing old and eventually preparing for the inevitable. Musically "Given Time" is perhaps the album’s most archetypical Rainmakers track. The next song titled "Vermillion" is another fairly recognizable Rainmakers composition. This is followed by a beautiful ballad evoking those restless emotions we so often need to repress in our daily life. When you consider the travelling days of Mr. Walkenhorst and his band it’s easy to understand that he relishes lying down in, as he sings: "My Own Bed". There has never been any doubt that The Rainmakers have been musically linked to country. This has perhaps never been more evident than on "Missouri Girl". The fifth track "Half a Horse a Piece" starts off with a wonderfully naive religious historic view and continues with relevant political criticism, displaying a true poet and dreamer’s outlook on politics and the world we all live in. "These Hills" echo the sound of the last Rainmakers album "Skin" with some clear influences of the Walkenhorst and Porter collaboration. "The Kansas City Times" has perhaps a little echo of "The Good News and the Bad News" album from 1989. I’m not quite sure if I’m to interpret the lyrics as criticism or praise for this now long gone (1867-1990) local newspaper. When it comes to the next track where "Baby Grand" seems to refer to all aspects of a woman’s life and a man’s loving relation to her as a lover, husband, father. You really have to ask Bob about the deeper meaning as I doubt it refers to the Baby Grand piano as was the case of the same titled track on Billy Joel’s "The Bridge" album. I love the humor in "25 ON"’s ninth track "Like Dogs". I’m also surprised that Mr. Bob Walkenhorst uses the F-word in the song’s last line. It comes as no surprise that The Rainmakers find inspiration both lyrically and musically in their surroundings. South State Gospel comes to us for a visit through the catchy and witty "Turpentine". With the two last songs of "25 ON" we seem to have come full circle. "The Last Song of the Evening" is the reflections of life from the perspective of a woman and mother who has lived her life within the confines of the role of the women we knew as our mothers and grandmothers. "Go Down Swinging" – a good old boogie blues and a protest against growing old gracefully, with reflections on life from the standpoint of a man who has lived long enough to have something to look back upon and even write about, yet still has plenty of things to look forward to, is a wonderful way of ending an album.
I’d like to end this review of The Rainmakers’ comeback album "25 ON" by declaring my limitless gratitude for the return of this fabulous band and all it means to me personally and to the countless other fans for whom The Rainmakers’ songs were like a soundtrack to life itself in their tender youth. Thanks!
(2011) 40,13 min