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The Roches


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk

Status:

Most recent release, Moonswept (2007)

See also:

The Roches' site

Wikipedia's entry for The Roches

Comparisons:

Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Covers/own material:

Own, covers

General comments:

The Roches are Maggie, Terre and Suzzy Roche—a trio of sisters from New Jersey. Keep on Doing happens to be one of my favorite albums of all time.
     Another of their albums, produced by Robert Fripp, is The Roches on which can be found the charming "Mr. Sellack," and the great "The Troubles" (sure wish they'd record a live version of this, they do a killer job of it in concert).
     For those of you who like Irish music, check out "On The Road To Fairfax County" (Keep On Doing) and "Factory Girl" (Nurds). If you're more interested in the kind of song that says "I love you and I wish you loved me back the way I want you to," you might enjoy "Love To See You" (Another World), The Largest Elizabeth In The World" (Keep On Doing), or "The Married Men" (The Roches). ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

I have never seen them live, but I have almost all of their albums, one way and another (I think one is on vinyl). I LOVE listening to their *perfect* harmonies! If you like beautiful tight harmonies and quirky lyrics and melodies, you'll adore this group! (fleur)

I discovered them last year when I finally bought their debut album, which one critic said was the only one to accurately capture their great stage show. I fell in love with it. This year, I bought the next two: nurds and keep on doing. Though some songs are a bit annoying (really, just "want not" and "keep on doing"), the rest are super. A month or two ago I saw them live for the first time and they were smashing. I was most impressed that the show featured no extra musicians: just the 3 sisters, playing all the instruments and singing all the notes (albeit with a bit of help from a programmed synth on not too many songs). Plus the interplay among them is *so* interesting. So I went out and bought their latest album (with only a bit of hesitation) A Dove and now I love it too. In particular "Too Tough Hide" is my fave. Now this is not ethereal music nor would I call it alternative or progressive. Just seriously inspired songwriting, witty lyrics, cool arrangements usually for 3 voices, some urban wisdom, some whimsy. I guess on all the 4 albums I own, the songwriting is the standout (lyrics and music). There are even a couple of somgs on their latest that evoke 10,000 Maniacs, who I know have a big following on this group. I would highly recommend their music, and moreover, if you want to be won over, go see'm live. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

I have never, ever been able to listen to the Roches without wanting to claw my eardrums out of my head. One of them (and for YEARS I have been fruitlessly trying to figure out which one) makes the trio sound to me like cats yowling on a fence. I've heard them all solo, and solo they're fine—but there's just something that happens when they all come together that really shouldn't be allowed. (meth@smoe.org)

When they don't do the afore—mentioned cat—yowling presentation, they harmonize beautifully. Unfortunately, they can't seem to stop themselves long enough to do an entire listenable album. (JavaHo@aol.com)

Of the three, I've always thought that Terre's songs were the most interesting both in terms of words and music.
     I think this "yowling" you hear is due to Terre having the lowest voice (octave? whatever you call it :) of the three. It's harder for her to hit the higher notes; to do so requires a person to sing louder. I've tested this myself, in various environments.
     Personally, I think Suzzy would have the best "yowl." Maggie has the most relaxed, "normal" vocal of the three, sometimes it blends into the background. I don't think I'd buy her solo album relatively quickly. (alundra@netos.com)

Comments about live performance:

I was very fortunate to catch the Roches as they breezed through the windy city Thursday. Very fine and a must-to-see in concert. I have their first three albums, but they sound *great* live, and are extremely entertaining to watch... the way they interact and play off each other. Hell, it's a whole psychological study right up on stage. Highly recommended. (7/92, mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

I saw the Roches perform at Folk Alliance—I've never been much of a fan before but I'd definitely go see them live—their harmonies are stunning and they were absolutely hilarious to see live. Great performers. Not sure I'd listen to the albums much if I bought them, but I think they'd definitely be worth going to see. (3/4/07, jjhanson@att.net)

Recommended first album:

The Roches definitely sing songs that tell stories with lots of harmony;—try their eponymous first album and Keep on Doing). (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Recordings:


The Roches

Release info:

1979—Warner Bros.

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Suzzy Roche—vocals, guitar
Maggie Roche—vocals, guitar, synthesizer on "Quitting Time"
Terre Roche—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Robert Fripp—electric guitar, Fripperies
Tony Levin—bass
Jim Maelen—triangle, shaker
Larry Fast—synthesizer programming

Produced by:

Robert Fripp

Comments:

Their debut as a trio ("born on the fifth of September..."), and on Warner Brothers records. This one's fairly folky, I'd say. ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

"Hammond Song" is one of my favorite songs of all time. (snooterbooter@yahoo.com)

"Hammomd Song," one of the more beautiful tunes in the last hundred years. (dgp@TheWorld.com)

The Roches have a great song called "The Married Men" on The Roches ("All of that time in hell to spend / for kissing the married men"). I also agree on the beauty of "Hammond Song", and for years the Roches have made me crave strawberry-apricot pie. I even made one once because if their song that mentions it as something they're longing for. (Neile)


Nurds

Release info:

1980—Warner Bros.

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Maggie Roche—acoustic guitar, vocals
Suzzy Roche—acoustic guitar, vocals
Terre Roche—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals

Guest artists:

Jay Dee Daugherty—drums
Fred Smith—electric bass
Lincoln Goines—acoustic bass
Jon Mathias—electric bass on "Nurds"
Gabriel Katona—synthesizer
Bob Conti—percussion
Bobby Gordon—clarinet on "Bobby's Song"

Produced by:

Roy Halee

Comments:

A different style starts creeping in here. Still brilliant, still tongue firmly in cheek, they relate "The Death of Suzzy Roche" and the story of "Louis," who has money. ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

Keep On Doing

Release info:

1982—Warner Bros.

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Maggie Roche—acoustic guitar, synthesizer, piano, singing
Terre Roche—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, singing
Suzzy Roche—acoustic guitar, singing

Guest artists:

Tony Levin—bass
Bill Bruford—percussion
Robert Fripp—guitar and devices

Produced by:

Robert Fripp

Comments:

Quite simply one of the best albums ever recorded. ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

The Roches recorded "The Hallelujah Chorus" on Keep On Doing. This disc is worth having for that track alone, but there are lots of other gems on it as well. My favorite is "Losing True" >which STILL sends chills down my spine. The album was produced by Robert Fripp, who brought Tony Levin and Bill Bruford along for the session. Pretty cool (and unlikely) back—up band, huh? (snooterbooter@yahoo.com)


Another World

Release info:

1985—Warner Bros.

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Maggie Roche—keyboards, singing
Suzzy Roche—acoustic guitar, singing
Terre Roche—electric and acoustic guitar, singing

Guest artists:

Tinker Barfield—bass
Gene Bianco—harp
Carter Cathcart—drums, bass, keyboards, electric guitars
Francisco Centeno—bass
Sandy Humphrey—cookies
Edd Kalehoff—synthesizers, keyboards, PP3
Steve Love—electric guitar
Roy Markowitz—drums
Sammy Merendino—drums (Paiste cymbals)
Andy Schwartz—electric guitar
Lee Shapiro—synclavier

Produced by:

Edd Kalehoff and Howard Lindeman (1, 4, 6, 10); Carter Cathcart and The Roches (2); and Richard Gottehrer (3, 5, 7—9)

Comments:

They started using electronic keyboards and drum machines and stuff at this time, but they were still brilliant. ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

No Trespassing

Release info:

1986—Real Live Records; reissued 1990—Rhino—RNEP 70616

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans only

Group members:

Maggie Roche—singing, guitar
Terre Roche—lead guitar (1), singing, guitar
Suzzy Roche—singing, speaking

Guest artists:

Andy Bloch—synthesizers, guitar, drum programming, percussion
Sammy Ferguson—percussion
Yves Gerard—additional drum programming
Will Lee—bass
Joe Ferry—percussion (2)
Daniel Wilensky—saxophone

Produced by:

Joe Ferry, Andy Block, and The Roches

Comments:

A four-song EP on the Rhino label, it's not recommended (by me) for non—fans. ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

Speak

Release info:

1989—MCA

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Maggie Roche—singing, piano, synthesizers, keyboard bass
Terre Roche—singing, guitars
Suzzy Roche—singing, synthesizers, guitars
The Roches—drum and synthesizer programming

Guest artists:

Carter Cathcart—Piano on "Losing Our Job," synthesizer strings and horn
Libby McLaren—synthesizers, keyboard bass
Vince Cherico—drums, drum programming, percussion
Fernando Saunders—bass guitar
Larry Fast—additional synthesizer programming
Jeffrey Lesser—falsetto vocal (Don't blink or you'll miss it)

Produced by:

The Roches and Jeffrey Lesser

Comments:

Definitely one of their best efforts!! ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

One of my 10 desert island CD picks. (snooterbooter@yahoo.com)


We Three Kings

Release info:

1990—MCA; reissued 1994—Rykodisc

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for anyone looking for seasonal music and for Roches fans

Group members:

Maggie Roche—singing, keyboards, hooves, whistling
Terre Roche—singing, guitars, piano
Suzzy Roche—singing, guitars, keyboards, big ideas

Guest artists:

Vince Cherico—drums and drum programming, percussion
Paul Ossola—bass guitar, upright bass
Victor Lesser—saxophones
The Hallmarks (David Roche, Jeffrey Lesser, Vince Cherico)—singing on "Silver Bells"
Lucy Roche, Jeannine Schmeltzkopf, Dara Schatt, Lucy Lesser and Kelsey Lesser—singing on "Frosty The Snowman"
Jeffrey Lesser&mbash;Neighbor imitation.
Michael Riesman— Performed and arranged instrumental parts on "For Unto Us a Child Is Born"

Produced by:

The Roches and Jeffrey Lesser

Comments:

Brilliant Christmas album, even for a Jew like me. ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

IMHO, the greatest Christmas album of all time. (bobkeefer@gmail.com)

Anything The Roches do is wonderful, and their Christmas album is no exception. They dig out some rare carols like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Good King Wenceslaus" and sing them with wonderful arrangements that perfectly suit their three—part harmony. They also do "For Unto Us a Child is Born" with this cool synthesized accompaniment and Maggie sings so low you'd swear they hired a Baritone! (snooterbooter@yahoo.com)

This is one of the few CDs I keep around to have something to play during the Xmas holidays. I'm generally not a fan of Christmas o even "seasonal" music, but I like almost all of this. (Neile)


A Dove

Release info:

1992—MCA/Paradox

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Terre—Vagabond travel guitar, guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, vocals Maggie—keyboards, vocals
Suzzy—keyboards, guitars, vocals

Guest artists:

Paul Ossola—bass Frank Vilardi—drums
Richard Kennedy—guitars, electric guitar, whistling
Steuart Smith—guitars
Peter Wood—keyboards, programming, piano
Lenny Pickett—flute, horns, tenor and baritone saxophone, clarinet
Charlie Giordano—piano and organ, synthesizer
Peter Ecklund —trumpet
David Bargeron—euphonium and trombone
David Beebe—drums Garry Dial—piano

Produced by:

Stewart Lerman

Comments:

Their most recent effort, and I'm still not in love with it. I don't hate it or anything (after all, it's got that great opening song, "Ing." But I don't really love it. And that's kind of a disappointment for me, considering that I felt fairly strongly in favor of each of their other albums. ((I_SW@zis.ziff.com)

Can We Go Home Now

Release info:

1995—Rykodisc—RCD 10299

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Terre Roche—singing, guitars, piano
Maggie Roche—singing, keyboards
Suzzy Roche—singing, guitars

Guest artists:

Paul Ossola—bass
Frank Vilardi—drums
Steuart Smith—electric guitars
David Mansfield—fiddle, pedal steel
Charlie Giordano—accordion
Stewart Lerman—keyboards, programming, guitar
Sammy Merendino—drum programming
Peter Lewy—cello
Garry Dial—humminizing, piano, Proteus pizz bass, Proteus oboe solo, Proteus bass
Mark Johnson—hi string vagabond guitars
Richard Kennedy—guitars
David Roche—singing (6)
Paul Jacobs—singing (6)
Joey Baron—drums

Produced by:

Stewart Lerman and The Roches

Comments:

It's interesting how long it took for me to take to their latest, Can We Go Home Now. Like all their other CDs, I bought it within a couple weeks of its release, but soon put it away as it didn't "hit" me as usual. In the last month, however, I've rediscovered it, if you will, and it's since been one of the most-played discs in my collection. It must have been me... (alundra@netos.com)

Further info:

Individual Work
  • Terre Roche released the solo album The Sound of a Tree Falling in 1998. Suzzy Roche released the solo albums Holy Smokes (1997) and Songs from an Unmarried Housewife and Mother, Greenwich Village, USA (2000). Suzzy Roche also recorded as a member of the Four Bitchin' Babes on the album Some Assembly Required.
  • Terre, Maggie, and Suzzy Roche have individually provided guest vocals on many albums. They also have solo songs on several compilations.
Duo Work
  • Maggie and Terre Roche released Seductive Reasoning in 1975 and I Gave My Love a Kerry in 2004.
  • Suzzy and Maggie Roche released Zero Church in 2002 and Why the Long Face in 2004. They recorded Buzzy Linhart's "The Love's Still Growing" for Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the 60's (1999) and Bob Dylan's "Clothes Line Saga" for A Nod to Bob (2001).
  • Terre Roche and Garry Dial relased US An'Them, a collection of national anthems, in 2008.
Trio Work
  • The Roches sing on two songs on Philip Glass' Songs for Liquid Days (1986): "Liquid Days (Part One)," lyrics by David Byrne, and backing vocals for Linda Ronstadt on "Forgetting," lyrics by Laurie Anderson.
  • Their recordings appear on several compilation albums. Songs only available on compilations include: the medley "Hi Diddle Dee Dee (An Actor's Life For Me) / Little April Shower/I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe (REM), Mark Bingham, and Los Lobos (Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, 1990); "Before You Sing" (Songs of Jack Hardy, Volume 1: Of the White Goddess, 1994); "Spaceman" (For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson, 1995); "Wedding Bell Blues" (Time and Love: The Music of Laura Nyro, 1997); "The Bells" (What's That I Hear?: The Songs Of Phil Ochs, 1998); "Walk Away Renee" (Rock 'N Roll Revival, 2005); and "Acadian Driftwood" (Endless Highway: The Music of the Band, 2007); and live performances of: "Star of Wonder" and "Winter Wonderland" (Christmas at Mountain Stage, 1994) and "Hammond Song" (The Budweiser Robert Klein Comedy Hour, 1979) and WXPN Live At The World Cafe Vol. 9, 2000).
  • The trio released the DVD Family Concert in 1995.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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