Harley-Davidson Road Songs Volume 2

Various Artists

The Right Stuff Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The last time I ever remember riding a motorcycle, I was about 12 years old, sitting on the back of my uncle's Harley-Davidson as he drove through my neighborhood on a family holiday (I think it was the Fourth of July). It's been a long time since that ride, and my uncle has long since sold that bike, as well as a Honda GoldWing (which I never thought he'd part with) and another Harley.

While I can not say I ever developed an affinity for motorcycles (assuring me that I'll never meet Jay Leno), I have always loved classic rock, no matter how overplayed it gets on the radio here in the Chicagoland area. And as many bikers will tell you, classic rock seems to be the music of the road. Some marketing genius realized this, and put out Harley-Davidson Road Songs, a two-disc set, a few years ago.

Now, the latest volume in that series, Harley-Davidson Road Songs Volume 2, is out (for the biker on your Christmas list, you can get it in a special leather CD wallet that can hold twelve discs total), and while I honestly can't make a connection between some of these songs and riding a motorcycle, I'll gladly welcome any chance to listen to some of the music I grew up with again.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Granted, many of these songs are available in some type of compilation or another. But the selection that the producers of this set have laid out, for the most part, is a real smorgasbord of rock and roll. From the songs that anyone can see themselves motoring down the road to ("Bad To The Bone" from George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," Montrose's "Bad Motor Scooter") to the songs that many of us might have forgotten about (Foghat's "Drivin' Wheel", Alice Cooper's "Under My Wheels"), there is something on this set that will delight almost everyone.

What surprises me are the songs that I had all but forgotten about, such as Bad Company's "Gone Gone Gone". A subtle reminder that classic rock isn't what you're beaten over the head with courtesy of rock radio, Harley-Davidson Road Songs Volume 2 becomes a history lesson for the last 25 or so years of rock, no matter what the flavor of it is. From Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot ("Highway Song" has more than its share of "Free Bird" influence in it) to Judas Priest (makes sense - Rob Halford used to ride a cycle onstage) and Pat Benatar, this disc rocks.

All this aside, there are still one or two moments where the set flounders a bit. I don't see Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" as being a great rock-down-the-highway song, and of all the Rainbow songs out there, why they selected "Street Of Dreams" (which admittedly I hadn't heard in years) I don't understand. In addition, I would have substituted Gregg Allman's sleepy version of "Midnight Rider" for the more lively version the Allman Brothers Band did. (Then again, I'm not the one programming this set.)

Okay, so you're not a motorcycle man (or mama); doesn't matter, as long as you like good rock music. Listening to this set is like listening to the radio, without the commercials. Not bad for over two hours of straight-out rock that should have everyone's feet tapping at some point. (And I still get chills when I here Ronnie Van Zant start singing "Free Bird".)

My uncle (who will become a father sometime in January) would definitely love this set - even if he doesn't ride a 'cycle anymore. Guess experiencing a set like Harley-Davidson Road Songs Volume 2 is the next best thing.

Rating: B-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of The Right Stuff Records, and is used for informational purposes only.