If you were paying attention to mainstream "modern rock" radio during the late '80s, the name Rhythm Corps may ring a bell with you. Hailing from Detroit, the band's closest sideswipe with fame was "Common Ground," a low ranking top-40 hit in 1988/89 from what I recall. Good song that, with a goes-down-easy hook, and a simple pro-tolerance sentiment. For twenty years or so, my association with the Rhythm Corps largely began and ended with that tune, although I did partake in a gaze of the video on YouTube from time to time. Like many one-hit-wonders of the Reagan era, the Corps were relegated to the same fate as A Flock of Seagulls, A-ha, etc. Then, clear out of the blue in December of last year when I was indulging in a podcast of a college radio show focusing on obscure wax, a song by the Rhythm Method, "Solidarity," came lunging out of my headphones eliciting the same visceral reaction as if I was hearing U2's "I Will Follow" or Brian Emo's "Needles in the Camels Eye" on a virgin listen.
The song was bristling with urgency, purpose, and euphoria even - over a subject the vast majority of their target audience was likely blissfully oblivious to, the then current Polish labor movement, What made "Solidarity" so flabbergastingly compelling was it's harmonic, ringing guitar riff, which figures not only into the chorus, but from second one. Six-stringer Greg Apro had obviously absorbed a few genius lessons from The Edge, and as such, with "Solidarity's" politically conscious content, I'm sure the Rhythm Method had to duck more than a few U2 comparisons. Melodically, there's something advanced here as well. Some might quibble that the main hook is introduced too early in the song, but I've always had an affection for verses that were as strong as the chorus, and that's what "Solidarity" delivers in spades. From hearing this jewel for the first time to my umpteenth listen today, I genuinely believe this to be one of the finest songs ever committed to tape. It's all there, derivative as it may be. The remainder of Paquet de Cinq isn't quite up to "Solidarity's" sonically lofty benchmark, but there's still plenty of echoing guitar fills and intelligent lyrics permeating it's other grooves.
As you might guess from the title of this post, Rhythm Method were forced to change their moniker to Rhythm Corps, due to competition from another group (if not others) who already lay claim to the Rhythm Method tag. In fact, subsequent pressings of Paquet de Cinq were adorned with the Rhythm Corps name. R/C's Common Ground album from '88 featured a radically reworked version of "Solidarity," which began with generally the same lyrics as the Paquet version, with a new melody line, before juxtaposing two minutes later into a kind of weird bastardization of the original arrangement. It probably wasn't what the band had in mind, rather the suits at Sony who couldn't leave well enough alone. An alternate rip of the record (which includes an incomplete "Figure and Face") is available on Motor City Rock with the rest of the Rhythm Corp's recorded output. Additionally, you can venture over here for some demos and live tracks.
01. Broken Haloes 02. I'm Not the Man 03. Figure and Face 04. Solidarity 05. All in Vain
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