Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders – “No One Knows Me” – Single Review
You know something? This is a solid tune!
Even though I’ve already been proven to be a fan of Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders many times over on these pages…make no mistake, “No One Knows Me” is a really damn good song. Blending pop, rock and arguably a little bit of the psychedelic-sound into the mix – the new single is perhaps the shortest I know of in their catalog…but wonderfully focused, 100% of the time.
I’d love to meet the oracle of lyricism out there that believes they get exactly what any given artist/band is singing about on any given song – does such a person exist? I try to do my best to get meanings and insight from any words I can hear when doing reviews…or at the very least, get the mood of the song from the atmosphere surrounding the words in the music itself…but I’d be the last person to ever say that I completely understand what the lyrics of any song truly ARE. I know what they become to me when my ears hear them…but of course, that could be far, far removed from the actual intended meaning of whatever song in question.
I don’t know what Billy Roberts is singing about on “No One Knows Me” – and that’s OK! You might not know either – and that’s OK too! The words come through clearly…it’s not an issue of that at all. It’s more like a stream of consciousness in a sense…a rhythm-roll through cleverly crafted lyrics that really hit the meter & flow perfectly. Think of songs like “Ignoreland” by R.E.M. or even “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel and you’ll get an idea…different sounds of course, but also songs that utilize that extraordinary power of a great vocal-flow & rhythm to form the backbone of the melody. Whether it’s a list of things he’s experienced, his favorite moments or memories from the past, or random words…unless you DO know him personally, you’re likely to be scratching your head for the exact meanings behind the words of “No One Knows Me.” Or…much like the examples of Stipe & Joel’s music that I just mentioned…you can simply sit back and enjoy the controlled flow of seeming randomness & streaming words and how much they allow this short song to expand itself.
For instance…those guitars! This is where the main elements of the psych-factor come in, alongside the backing subtle synth additions. The bass & drums of the rhythm section keep this short-cut moving at a quick, reliable & groovin’ pace…crisp beats and fantastic bass-tones really fuel the base of this song. You combine that with the ever-steady pacing & movement in the lyrics & vocals and this song is SET…which allows the guitars & synth to become all that more inventive within this short time-frame. The lead-guitar gets to solo pretty much throughout this entire song – how cool is that? It plays so damn well alongside the main rhythm…and again, that freedom being provided to it through the song structure being so solid in every other area really allows it to roam with true freedom of expression. The synth-organ…or maybe even synth-accordion…hell, maybe they’re both in there and maybe they’re even real instruments…whatever they’re using fills in this song absolutely spot-on. No dead-spots…no time where the song isn’t entertaining…it may be short, but as I’ve mentioned – it’s incredibly focused.
So Jer @ SBS, you ask…if it’s THAT focused…how come the words are all over the map?
Good question. Great question if I do say so myself…but a better answer. Have you ever tried to write words that DON’T mean anything to you? For those out there that have never attempted this…let me tell you…it’s about 100% harder than you’d think. It’s like trying to speak nonsense-words for a length of time without accidentally slipping a word or two in from the actual language you speak…like, as in, damn-near impossible. So I’d challenge the question to begin with…because while it might be tougher for us as listeners to glean the meaning of the lyrics of any song – 99% of the time, they truly do mean something to the person that originally wrote them. What that meaning is will more-often than not remain a mystery – what becomes important is that you can hear that connection between the words and the way a singer sings them…that’s what really establishes that longevity in our ears and stereos. In that sense…whether it’s Stipe, Joel or Roberts here on “No One Knows Me” – these songs come out memorable for their rhythm and flow; they have us singing along regardless of whether or not we know ANY of the right words due to the power & pull of the focused-hooks and strong rock-melody.
For me…this was definitely a winner in the Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders legacy. “No One Knows Me” moves and moves and moves, groovin’ the entire time; fantastic rhythm in the bass, inventive & creative guitars with perfect tones, innovative backing-elements and a beat that never quits – you add the magic of a great vocal-flow/performance into the mix like they have here and you’ve got pure audio-entertainment. It’s a vibrant & lively tune! Really dig this cut from Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders – whether or not you or I understand every word or how they all tie-in together doesn’t stop this cut from phonetically working its magic at every opportunity it has to do so – they nailed this one.
Find more music from Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders at their official page at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-Fj5L70KfWvrhORMjkF6fQ/videos
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!