Years before Cowboy Troy fused rap and country to create “Hick Hop”, Rhode Island outfit Rubber Rodeo, dressed in fringe jackets, cowboy boots and bolo ties, added the punk aesthetic alongside new wave’s sound to Patsy Cline-ish melodies to create “Cowpunk”, which on paper sounds like an unholy alliance, but in practice wasn’t too bad.
Fusing synths and drum machines with lap-pedal steel guitar and twangy “y’all” vocals, Rubber Rodeo’s major label debut, “Scenic View” was kitschy and catchy at the same time. I remember an initial big push from MTV for the first video, “The Hardest Thing”, which is where I first heard them (after all, radio wouldn’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 “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” 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, “Anywhere With You”, a couple times, but not nearly as much as the first one, which is strange since “Anywhere” actually was a bigger hit, charting on the Hot 100 for a few weeks.
Two years later, Rubber Rodeo released a second album, “Heartbreak Highway”, featuring the single “Souvenir”, which you’ll find on one of EMI’s “Living In Oblivion” compilations. I never understood why they chose that song, since just about no one heard that second album – maybe “Souvenir” was a radio hit somewhere? – but “Heartbreak Highway” 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.
Download “The Hardest Thing”.
Download “Anywhere With You”.”The Hardest Thing” did not chart.
“Anywhere With You” peaked at #86 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1984.