In light of singer/actor Tim Curry's history of hamming it up on stage and screen as the main Rocky Horror pop culture icon, it could be easy to dismiss his brief period of solo work as yet another chapter in the same story. In fact, it's not unreasonable to imagine that the lyrical focus of this song could be the proper way to serve up a Frank-N-Furter to the ravenous cult at a midnight screening. However, ultimately Curry's string of three solo albums released during the late '70s and early '80s have a bit more to offer than mere novelty. Not always much more, frankly (apologies for that), but certainly Curry has little to prove in terms of his versatility as a performer. Therefore, when he's having fun with a track like 1979's "I Do the Rock," Curry earns enough good will to allow him a few indulgences.
Luckily, in the case of "On a Roll," a straight-ahead guitar rock track from Curry's final solo release, 1981's Simplicity, the singer generally stays true to the aesthetic promised within his one-word LP title. This isn't life-changing music, to be sure, but the tune's guitar riffs avoid new wave and arena rock cliches nimbly enough to establish a better than decent mainstream rock performance. In fact, at its best, Curry's rock vocal style recalls fellow Englishman Tom Robinson more than it retreads the former's most famous role. Plus, coming in at just under three minutes, the track never wears out its welcome or aspires to anything more than an easy rock and roll spirit. When this record came out, Curry was still a few years away from scarring generations of TV viewers with his creepy take on clown from hell Pennywise in the mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's It. So although we may not be able to recapture fully the innocence of the Rocky Horror salad days, this harmless musical romp does come pretty damn close.
- Listen to "On a Roll" in its entirety here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of A&M