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Wheels Are Turnin'

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Album Review

Wheels Are Turnin' blends clear, crisp ballads with high-energy pop/rock, which eventually gave REO Speedwagon four Top 40 singles, the same amount as Hi Infidelity credited them with four years earlier. Kevin Cronin's writing is rock-solid, a delightful turnaround from 1982's Good Trouble album. As one of the band's best ballads, "Can't Fight This Feeling" puts an elegant piano riff in front of Cronin's earnest voice, presenting REO with its second number one single, while "I Do' Wanna Know" is a turbulent ride of clean-cut guitar and up-and-down piano that comes off as well-crafted pop with a bite. Every track has the band sounding sharper and more alive, with even the less-extravagant material like "Break His Spell" and "Thru the Window" emanating merit. "One Lonely Night" throws the spotlight on Cronin's voice, proving that his expertise at carrying out the slow stuff hasn't dwindled, while "Live Every Moment" rounds out the last of the singles from the album, hitting number 34 in August of 1985, eight months after Wheels Are Turnin' achieved its number-seven mark on the U.S. charts. With production, songwriting, and tight instrumentation wisely dished out in equal portions, Wheels Are Turnin' was evidence that REO Speedwagon could still make some gratifying rock & roll.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in Champaign, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Three bands were the undisputed arena rock kings of the early '80s — Styx, Journey, and REO Speedwagon — yet all weren't overnight success stories (in fact, each group began pursuing different musical styles originally — prog rock, fusion, and straight-ahead hard rock, respectively, before transforming slowly into chart-topping mainstream rockers). REO Speedwagon first formed in 1968, via a pair of University of Illinois students, keyboardist Neal Doughty and drummer Alan Gratzer....
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Wheels Are Turnin', REO Speedwagon
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