Song of the Week – Back Door, Rhinoceros

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

If any of you are vinyl record collectors (as I am) you can appreciate the joys of “crate digging” in thrift shops, garage sales, or used record stores.  For me, the greatest reward comes from buying an album I’ve never heard (or heard of), bringing it home, putting on the turntable for a spin, and finding out it’s a nugget!

Based on experience, I’ve learned a few tricks to increase the odds that I’ll take a flyer on a good record instead of a dog.  I look at the credits to see who was involved as session players, producers, or engineers.  What label is it on?

I bought an album by the band Rhinoceros because of the font used for the track listing on the back cover.  I recognized it from albums by Tom Rush, Tim Buckley, The Butterfield Blues Band, The Doors, and Love – all late 60s artists on Elektra.

Rhinoceros, it turns out, was a band of musicians that were auditioned, selected, and assembled by Elektra producers Paul Rothchild and Frazier Mohawk in 1967 to form a “supergroup.”  They released three albums that received critical accolades but sold poorly.  Perhaps the inorganic nature of the group’s formation rubbed the public the wrong way at a time when authenticity was a strongly held value.

But there’s no denying that the band could write, play and sing.  They were funky and soulful.  Three Dog Night and Rod Stewart both covered their recordings.  TDN cut a speeded-up “I Will (Let Me) Serenade You” on 1973’s Cyan.  Stewart included “You’re My Girl” as the closer on Gasoline Alley (1970).  Songs by Rhinoceros are frequently heard on Sirius XM’s Underground Garage playlists.

Today’s SotW is “Back Door” from the second Rhinoceros album, Satin Chickens (1969).  It’s an R&B workout that captures a funky groove.

Keep your eyes (and mind) open for cool records that you’ve never heard.  You may discover a gem.  Happy hunting!

Enjoy… until next week.

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