Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers' Rumble. [July 9 - August 9]
Rumblers to Release Columbia Debut
Friday, July 29, 1988
By Lauren R. Feola
Collegian Arts Writer
Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, a group that has been around the block and up and down the East Coast. are on the brink of national exposure.
"Look out, baby, here I come," sings Conwell, frontman and namesake for the group. To Philadelphia-vicinity fans, the lyric and name are familiar. But on August 9th, the Young Rumblers' new release Rumble on Columbia Records, will put their name into the national scope.
Of course, the world of music television will be a factor. "The video, a performance video, was filmed last week, downstairs (in the 23 East Cabaret, a few miles outside of Philadelphia in Ardmore.) It will coincide with the release and be on MTV," said Patty Rose, an agent at Cornerstone Management.
The bluesy hard-pop band's slow-brewing popularity has developed from a recipe of an independent album, a few friendly AOR radio stations and three years of constant roadwork.
A sparse Young Rumblers grouped early in 1984. Six months later, the three member band of Conwell on guitars, Paul Slivka on bass and Jim Hannum on drums signed with Cornerstone Management, the same company that the Hooters are with.
After an intense touring schedule and the addition of Chris Day on guitar and Rob Miller on keyboards, the Young Rumblers' sound had solidified. They took to the studio in December 1986 and released the independent Walkin' on the Water. The album, which has sold approximately 50,000 copies, and more touring, which included a stop at the 1987 Interfraternity Council Dance Marathon, has gained the Young Rumblers some recognition and airplay.
Some of the band's singles are occasionally exposed locally on WWZU. "They've gotten a lot better," disc jockey Shawn Carey said. "We've been playing the new version of 'I'm Not Your Man'". From the sound of the single, revamped from the independent album, the Young Rumblers have become musically stronger and more personalized. Especially, Miller's keyboard work has developed into a more important facet of the sound.
The new album has samples of the group's past, present and future, according to Patty Rose at Cornerstone. "The album has things people heard in shows, stuff from the Walkin' on the Water and some brand new surprises that you've never heard before," she said.
The first single and video will be the newer, edgier "I'm Not Your Man," a coy farewell tune. Other titles mentioned by Rose were "I Wanna Make You Happy," with rollicking twangy guitars and "Gonna Breakdown," a gospel-influenced rocker.
"Tommy has a lot of influences, as you can tell on the new album," Rose said. "Mainly Bo Diddley as one, but the album is musically more complicated."
The Young Rumblers have promises of tour support from Columbia, which will eventually pull them from bar-band status. Besides Philadelphia, Harrisburg, New Jersey shore and Georgetown clubs, the band has had some positive larger-crowd experience. Last summer, they opened headliners David Bowie and Squeeze, Bryan Adams, and the Hooters. Most recently, the Young Rumblers performed in Hershey, opening Robert Plant's show last weekend. "They were fantastic," said Carey at WWZU.
WWZU is attempting to negotiate a sponsored performance for later this year. "We're not sure, though," said Carey. "They're talking about maybe going to Europe."
Locally, the shows are going on; the Young Rumblers will be in Wilkes-Barre for a show at Market Street on August 4th. Next weekend, performances will be at the 23 East Cabaret, soon to be immortalized by MTV. A performance on August 12th in Atlantic City will be broadcast live on Philadelphia's WMMR.