This R.E.O Speedwagon release is one of the largest releases we have put out all year, weighing in at an impressive 82 Tracks over 8CDs.
Although best known for the AOR and radio hits from the early 1980s (which included the number ones ‘Keep On Loving You’ and ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’), R.E.O. Speedwagon’s long history goes way back to their formation in Champaign, Illinois in 1967. Initially a covers band playing bars and fraternity houses, the initial line-up of Neal Doughty on keyboards, Alan Gratzer on drums and vocals, Joe Matt on guitar and vocals and Mike Blair on bass and vocals, named themselves after the R.E.O. Speed Wagon, a model of American flat-bed truck. By the time they came to record their debut LP for Epic Records in 1971, the line- up had settled around Terry Luttrell on lead vocals, driving force Gary Richrath on guitar and Gregg Philbin on bass, joining Neal Doughty and Alan Gratzer.
Although guitarist Gary Richrath has long been an important and influential figure in the songwriting and musical direction of the band, by the release of second LP, “R.E.O./T.W.O.”, the band were joined by Kevin Cronin on lead vocals. His tenure with R.E.O. was cut short when he was replaced on lead vocals by Mike Murphy for 1973’s “Ridin’ The Storm Out”, 1974’s “Lost In A Dream” and 1975’s “This Time We Mean It”, the latter co-produced by future Eagles producer, Bill Szymczyk. By 1976’s “R•E•O”, Kevin Cronin had returned to the fold, making a significant contribution to the songwriting alongside Gary Richrath. Produced by John Stronach, “R•E•O” would also be the last studio LP to feature Gregg Philbin on bass, who’d be replaced by Bruce Hall following 1977’s double concert album “LIVE (YOU GET WHAT YOU PLAY FOR)”. Going platinum the following year, whilst making a healthy dent on the Billboard Hot 100, it was recorded at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, the Convention Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, Kiel Auditorium, Saint Louis, Missouri and the Electric Ballroom in Atlanta, Georgia.
As well as extensive liner notes from Malcolm Dome, this expansive 8 disc set features a wealth of bonus tracks; self-titled debut album CD1: “R.E.O. SPEEDWAGON”  features “mono single” versions of ‘157 Riverside Avenue’, ‘Lay Me Down’ and ‘Sophisticated Lady’. CD2: “R.E.O. T.W.O.”  features a “mono single” cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Little Queenie’. CD3: “RIDIN’ THE STORM OUT”  features bonus “mono single” versions of ‘Ridin’ The Storm Out’, ‘Open Up’ plus ‘Ridin’ The Storm Out’ and ‘Son Of A Poor Man’ featuring Kevin Cronin on vocals. CD4: “LOST IN A DREAM”  features a “mono single” version ‘Throw The Chains Away’. CD5: “THIS TIME WE MEAN IT”  features “mono single” versions of ‘Reelin’’ and ‘Out Of Control’. CD6: “R•E•O”  “mono single” version of ‘Keep Pushin’’ plus a live take of the same song. CD7 & CD 8: “LIVE (YOU GET WHAT YOU PLAY FOR)”  finishes off this collection, and restores the record to its original full length double album by including both ‘Gary’s Guitar Solo’ and ‘Little Queenie’, which were omitted from the original single CD release due to time constraints.