The connection of rock ‘n’ roll and biker culture has always been a cautious one. While both art forms embody the spirit of rebellion and freedom, there haven’t been many popular songs with motorcycling as a direct subject matter. Instead, songs like Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” encapsulate the feeling of riding a motorcycle, without bikes being mentioned.
MeanStreet Riders, a group of musicians/singers/motorcyclists, are out to change all that. Formed in late 2008 after a ride on The Dragon, according to their biography, the six-piece band (three guitars, keyboards, bass, drums) “have ridden motorcycles their entire lives and write music about their love of the open road.”
Opening their new CD with the title track, “High On the Hog,” they certainly do wear their dedication to motorcycling on their sleeves. The sound of the leadoff track is pure southern-fried rock, perfect for blasting through a pair of Road Glide speakers.
From there, MeanStreet Riders flash their studio-friendly chops through a variety of genres, sometimes within the same songs. For instance, “129”-named after the famous highway that inspired the band-mixes funk with AOR.
Later on, the band settles into something of an Eagles vibe, going for classic rock with some relatively sedate fare.
Whether or not you buy into the concept of listening to songs about riding while you’re riding is a personal thing. Certainly, the quieter songs work better at home than they do with the wind rushing by at 65 mph.
In some ways, the MeanStreet Riders’ strengths – technical ability, clean production, and careful songcraft – are also their weaknesses. The wild edge of riding doesn’t quite come across in the sound, so the CD is more about being told stories of riding in song, rather than being inspired to ride by the energy of the song itself.
Fortunately, MeanStreet Riders’ songs are available individually on iTunes, so you can have a listen and decide for yourself.