Years before Cowboy Troy fused rap and country to create â€œHick Hopâ€, Rhode Island outfit Rubber Rodeo, dressed in fringe jackets, cowboy boots and bolo ties, added the punk aesthetic alongside new waveâ€™s sound to Patsy Cline-ish melodies to create â€œCowpunkâ€, which on paper sounds like an unholy alliance, but in practice wasnâ€™t too bad.
Fusing synths and drum machines with lap-pedal steel guitar and twangy â€œyâ€™allâ€ vocals, Rubber Rodeoâ€™s major label debut, â€œScenic Viewâ€ was kitschy and catchy at the same time. I remember an initial big push from MTV for the first video, â€œThe Hardest Thingâ€, which is where I first heard them (after all, radio wouldnâ€™t touch something like this). MTV must have had the video in medium rotation, because I saw the band romping through the huge dinosaur park later featured in â€œPee Weeâ€™s Big Adventureâ€ several times. I was hooked and bought the album, but MTV dropped the video just as quickly.
I do remember seeing the video for the second single, â€œAnywhere With Youâ€, a couple times, but not nearly as much as the first one, which is strange since â€œAnywhereâ€ actually was a bigger hit, charting on the Hot 100 for a few weeks.
Two years later, Rubber Rodeo released a second album, â€œHeartbreak Highwayâ€, featuring the single â€œSouvenirâ€, which youâ€™ll find on one of EMIâ€™s â€œLiving In Oblivionâ€ compilations. I never understood why they chose that song, since just about no one heard that second album â€“ maybe â€œSouvenirâ€ was a radio hit somewhere? â€“ but â€œHeartbreak Highwayâ€ stripped away more of the country touches until Rubber Rodeo sounded like pretty much everything else in 1986. And with that, Rubber Rodeo closed up shop and rode off into the pop sunset, but not before leaving us with at least two great tracks.
â€The Hardest Thingâ€ did not chart.
â€œAnywhere With Youâ€ peaked at #86 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1984.