If you’re from Long Island, New York, over the age of fifty and have any bit of a rock and roll heart, than chances are you have heard of the Good Rats. If rock and roll played a significant role in your life, than chances are you have not only heard of the Good Rats, but also attended many Good Rats shows in the once thriving Long Island Club scene in the 1970’s and 80’s. Like all long time Good Rats fans, we always asked the question as to why the band was not known around the world on a level like bands such as The Clash, Thin Lizzy or The Ramones. The Good Rats wrote and recorded an amazing body of work. The band delivered high energy killer shows on a nightly basis. They were the most sought after band to perform in all the top clubs in New York for many years. Peppi Marchello’s voice was unlike any other in rock and roll. It cut right through you with a crazed emotion that could not be forgotten.
The origins of the band began in 1964. A few years passed, band members changed, and eventually the band became known as The Good Rats. In 1969. the band released their first album. Eventually, the band would settle on a lineup that would define their glory years. Every song on this Top 10 Essential Good Rats Songs list features the lineup that consisted of Peppi Marchello on lead vocals, John Gatto on lead guitar, Micky Marchello on rhythm guitar, Lenny Kotke on bass, and Joe Franco on drums.
In 2013, the band’s leader Peppi Marchello passed away due to a heart attack. At the time, Marchello was still active in the music business. Since their debut album in 1969, The Good Rats have released 14 albums ending with the 2014 release of Afterlife.
On the band’s website is a banner promoting a Rolling Stone Magazine statement that declared them “The world’s most famous unknown band.” For a Long Islander like myself, The Good Rats will always remain one of the greatest rock and roll bands to come out of the classic rock era. One of our goals here at classic rock history is to turn people onto bands they may have never heard off. We know we will be successful with this one.
# 15 – Just Found Me A Lady
Opening our Top 10 Good Rats Songs list is a long time fan favorite called “Just Found Me A Lady.” The great grooving, soul infused, Good Rats Song was released on their From Rats To Riches album in 1978. This one became a great sing along number when the band performed it. If bands were going to cover Good Rats Songs, “Just Found Me A Lady,” would be a great choice.
# 14 – Fireball Express
The Good Rats “Fireball Express,” was released on their 1974 album Tasty. The Tasty album was the band’s most successful record of their career. This Essential Top 15 Good Rats Songs list will be showcasing a large portion of material from this magnificent album. After the album was released the band found themselves opening up for some of rock and roll’s most famous artists including Bruce Springsteen, Meat Loaf, The Allman Brothers Band, Kiss, Rush, Aerosmith, and Ozzy Osbourne.
# 13 – Dear Sir
The great song “Dear Sir,” was released on the band’s From Rats to Riches LP in 1978. The album was produced by the legendary musical team of Flo & Eddie. For those of you who may not know the name Flo & Eddie, you may have heard of their first band, “The Turtles.”
# 12 – Local Zero
The Good Rats song “Local Zero,” was released on the band’s From Rats to Riches LP in 1978. Just take a listen to Joe Franco’s great drum groove and hi hat work at the song’s beginning and you will understand why Franco has always been considered one of the top drummers to hail from Long Island, New York.
# 11 – Back To My Music
Another great track from the legendary Tasty LP was the Good Rats song “Back To My Music.” The Good Rats Tasty album is the record most represented on this 15 Essential Good Rats Songs List. The song also defines the autobiographical nature of Peppi Marchello’s lyrics. The band often wrote from personal experiences that Long Islanders loved hearing about. However, one may wonder if that hurt them in the long run from a universal and international point of acceptance. It worked for Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, The Eagles and a host of other bands. Nonetheless, the Good Rats lyrical connections to Long Island somehow got lost to those who don’t even know where Long Island is located.
# 10 – You’re Still Doin’ It
The Good Rats song “You’re Still Doin’ It,” featured a slow grooving Fender Rhodes based song opening that leads into Peppi’s thunderous vocal attack. The song also featured a killer lead guitar solo by John Gatto. Great female backing vocals and hook driven chorus showcased tremendous musical growth by the band in 1979.
# 9 – School Days
Deep in the heart of the new wave era of 1979, the Good Rats released a record that ignored current trends and stayed true to their rock and roll roots. The Good Rats album Birth Comes To Us All featured an onslaught of new Good Rats Songs led by the unforgettable “School Days”.
# 8 – Don’t Hate The Ones Who Bring You Rock And Roll
The great song “Don’t Hate The Ones Who Bring You Rock And Roll,” was released on the band’s From Rats to Riches LP in 1978. This is probably our favorite chorus out of all the Good Rats Songs on this list. One of the greatest songs ever written about the saving grace of Rock and Roll. The song“Don’t hate the ones who bring you Rock & Roll” is in 13/4 time which is a very uncommon time signature. The song also contained the lyric “Twisted mothers, twisted brothers, Twisted Sisters. You all gotta’ be a little twisted if you came to hear us .” hose lyrics were making reference to the famous Long Island band Twisted Sister who were performing in the same clubs at the time. The Long Island Club scene was very competitive among bands in the 1970’s and bands took potshots at each other all the time.
# 7 – Coo Coo Blues
The Good Rats song “Coo Coo Blues,” was released on the band’s From Rats to Riches LP in 1978. The great blues piano driven opening sounded so right underneath the iconic vocal performance of Peppi Marchello. When the band finally finds it way into the “Coo Coo Blues,” chorus, fans were given one of the all time great sing along songs in Good Rats history. You will be singing this one all day after hearing it only one time. Once again, another autobiographical song by the band.
# 6 – Taking It To Detroit
One of the most popular Good Rats Songs of the band’s career was also released on the band’s From Rats to Riches LP in 1978. If you had ever intended a Good Rats show, you would most certainly admit that their performance of “Taking It To Detroit,” was always one of the show’s highlights.
# 5 – Reason To Kill
One of the band’s most exciting rock and roll records that they ever released was entitled Rat City in Blue. A titled spoof on the Gershwin classic “Rhapsody in Blue.” The album was full of amazing performances by the band. Some would argue that it was their best album. How could you not love that legendary back cover.
# 4 – Does It Make You Feel Good?
The Good Rats song “Does It Make You Feel Good,” was the opening track to their phenomenal Rat City In Blue album. The song’s killer opening guitar riff set the tone for perhaps the greatest vocal performance of Peppi Marchello’s career. Easily one of the greatest Good Rats Songs ever released.
# 3 – Papa Poppa
The last three songs on our Essential Good Rats Songs list all hail from their classic 1974 album Tasty. The first of the group is the classic story of “Papa Poppa.” This one featured a rare acoustic guitar opening. However, John Gatto’s electric guitar lead at the song’s opening set the band up for the electric performance soon to follow. Great guitar work, amazing harmonies; it just didn’t get any better.Wow!
# 2 – Injun Joe
The groove starts off nice and easy and then kick into that legendary Good Rats sound. Before you know it, Peppi Marchello’s singing at the height of his register in perfect tune. Peppi Marchello sang with a passion that few singers ever found in their performances. Just one listen to his ending licks on the song’s choruses and you’ll discover his brilliance. Once again, John Gatto lays down an amazing guitar solo while Micky Marchello’s Peter Townsend’s like rhythmic guitar playing wraps around Gatto’s virtuosity. And lest not forget about Lenny Kotke’s bass playing that kept the whole machine running tight.
# 1 – Tasty
There was a record store in Commack Long Island that was owned by the same Artie that played bass in the Good Rats for a short period of time. It was the same Artie that was also sung about in the lyrics to “Tasty.”
“We had a bass player named crazy Art, He overplayed his bass a lot.
“We had to kick him in the pants, his fingers moved like vitus dance….because he couldn’t play Tasty….”
As kids we used to go into Artie’s music store which was called Music Den and sing those lyrics before he would throw us out. But he always let us back in because we spent a lot of money there. If there were a contest to determine the most popular Good Rats song of all time well there would be no doubt that the classic Good Rats song “Tasty,” would win. The song’s lyrics and melody was so well written, it surprising that the song was not a bigger hit. Perhaps it was because of the autobiographical nature of the song or simply the record company just did not put enough money into promoting the band, which was also a common theme sung about by Peppi Marchello.
Regardless of the band’s lack of international fame, on Long Island there were surely defined as local heroes. The Good Rats defined an era of great rock and roll, authentic and virtuoso playing, brilliantly written songs and captivating performances.
We hope this presentation of Good Rats Songs has won you over and made you a fan of one of the great unheralded bands of the classic rock era