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{August 4, 2012}   A Fan’s History of 80’s Boston Bands: R is for the Rings

Rings at Uncle Sam’s in 1981

Uncle Sam’s was definitely one of my go-to destinations when I first started hitting the clubs. As a South Shore suburban girl, I hadn’t yet graduated to going to the clubs in Boston. Uncle Sam’s often booked bands that were “local” yet “national” –bands from the area that had major label contracts: Robin Lane and the Chartbusters (which I also could have featured here for “R”, but I didn’t have any photos), The Atlantics, and of course The Rings and Private Lightning. The latter two were on the downward slope by the time I was going to see them. Their major label LPs were not selling as well as their record companies had hoped, and it seemed large-scale fame had passed them by.

The Rings got airplay with the song, “Let Me Go”, but I loved the whole album and played it to death. One of my favorite songs was “Who’s She Going Dancing With.” I couldn’t help but get up and dance to that one! And listen to “Love’s Not Safe” from the second album and tell me you don’t want to dance! Watching the video for “Let Me Go” and listening to some of the music, in retrospect I am struck by how similar the vocal style is to Ric Ocasek from The Cars (and the clothes style too).

While researching for this post I found a blog about The Rings that I think does them better justice than I can. (If you’d like a little history of the band, check out this link.) I loved reading the comments on the blog — like most of the people who wrote them, I feel privileged to have seen The Rings play. The band was TIGHT and professional and great LIVE.

As I chose and scanned these two photos I had taken a year apart, it struck me how in the second photo the band looks relaxed and seems to be having a good time. The difference in Michael Baker’s clothes also fascinated me. The outfit in the first photo seems so calculated to be cool and SO 80’s; I think the t-shirt and jeans in the second photo suit him much more.

The Rings at Uncle Sam’s 1982

Michael Baker ended up doing a lot of producing. And proof of how small the Boston Music Scene was back then: the guitarist for The Rings, Mark Sutton (right front in the photo below) ended up playing with Dave Morrison (I’ll talk about him in my post for the letter “T”) in a band called True Blue.

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peters154 says:

Wow, I had forgotten about this band! I didn’t have any of their records, but my older brother did. I remember liking one of their songs, and just spent a few minutes on YouTube figuring out that it was “Third Generation”. I’d borrow my brother’s record just to listen to that one song.

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Julianna says:

I love what a labor of love this series is for you! Glad you found my blog, and that I could get the good vibes off this one!!

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sued51 says:

Yes, Julianna, it has been a labor of love…although I’m relieved the end of the alphabet is in sight. 🙂
Glad I found your blog too…beautiful stuff!

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Jay Seibert says:

LOVED the Rings. Played both LP’s to death, now regret having sold them w. my vinyl collection a few yrs back. Saw them at the Paradise and still think they were the tightest, fastest band I have ever seen. Simply amazing, like an adrenaline / Red Bull / caffeine / meth cocktail. They just knocked out one cyber good song after another, totally blew me away. Was hard to tap your foot to the beat, much less anything else. Wish MCA, or whoever now owns the rights, would release those LP’s on CD.

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sued51 says:

Thanks for commenting Jay. They were SUCH a tight band. If you are on Facebook, do a search for the Rings; there’s a fan club site!

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mhdriver says:

The only ring I remember is the RINGO Star from the beetles. Again thank you for giving me all the likes.

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jj2tecigamab1971 says:

Reblogged this on Kim Shaw Diary.

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sued51 says:

Thanks for the reblog!

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Casper says:

I just found this record in a “Crate Dig” at a flea market in my home state of Oklahoma. Well by crate dig I really mean going through a horribly stacked room of wall-to wall record albums. I made a dent in say an eighth of it all. Story for another day though. Either way I bought the debut album on just good faith. It had all of the hallmarks of an early 80s new wave pop record. I scored it and 25 other albums for $10. This is so far my favorite one of the lot. Third Generation and Who’s She Dancin’ With stand out.

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sued51 says:

Casper…thanks for your comment. Glad you decided to give their album a shot. Anything else you liked in the lot of records?? Glad the Rings have spread to Oklahoma (better late than never). There’s a RINGs page on Facebook too if you are interested.

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Casper says:

Oh gosh. Plenty of good finds. And I barely dented the room. Rockpile “Seconds To Pleasure” was a great one. I found a near pristine debut album from Marshall Crenshaw. I recently found The Spiders first album. That is most notable due to singer/songwriter Holly Knight. Highly recommended. Split Enz “Waiata” as well. I have a wishlist right now as well. I want the very early Blasters albums on vinyl.

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Casper says:

Can you post a link for me to the Facebook page btw, sued51? And feel free to add me on Facebook if you are so inclined. User name is Casper Wrestledabearskinrugonce Guinn.
Thanks!

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sued51 says:

Casper,

I sent you a friend request. 🙂

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sued51 says:

I can hear your passion, Casper. 🙂 I love Marshall Crenshaw and Nick Lowe too. Didn’t know about Holly Knight…will have to look her up.

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Jim says:

Thanks for the Bog. I have the ‘Rings” first album put on CD by a friend of mine. I listen to it quite often. I remember WBCN playing the entire album when it was released. Every song on the album is great. The music was unreal on every track. And the lyric writing speaks volumes. A band that should have made it to the top, if not for MCA.

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sued51 says:

Thanks for your comment Jim. I recently dug out my records and set up a turntable and I was glad to find my Rings record in the ones that got saved!!

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