In MKE Music Rewind we revisit notable Milwaukee music that was released before Milwaukee Record became a thing in April 2014. This week: “Girl Like You,” by The Rage.

Power pop is universal. Power pop is timeless. Any band, residing in any city, living in any decade, is capable of producing impeccably crafted rock and roll brimming with sticky-sweet melodies. And yet there’s something special about Midwest power pop—especially Midwest power pop from the 1970s and ’80s. Rockford, Illinois can famously claim Cheap Trick; Milwaukee can claim plenty of its own ’70s/’80s power-pop gems, though one of the more winning examples is The Rage.

First, let’s get to the song. Here’s “Girl Like You,” the B-side to The Rage’s 1980 “Be My Love (Tonight)” single. It’s pure Midwest power pop. It’s fantastic:

The Rage formed in Milwaukee in the early ’80s, with Joe Lucchesi (a.k.a. Joey LaVie) on vocals and guitar, Lars Hanson on drums, Gordy Wayne on bass, and Eric Ericson on keyboards. Later, Madison musicians Gil Jevne and John Masino joined the band. If Lucchesi and Hanson ring a bell, that’s because the musicians had previously played together in the seminal Milwaukee rock band Bad Boy. Bad Boy recorded two albums for United Artists in the ’70s: 1977’s The Band That Milwaukee Made Famous, and 1978’s Back To Back. A few years later, after the label folded, Bad Boy added Randall “Xeno” Hogan—a.k.a. the original lead singer of Cheap Trick.

But back to The Rage—and, not surprisingly, Cheap Trick. Here are some snippets from a July 17, 1981 review of a Rage show, via the La Crosse Tribune:

If you had a spare dollar and you didn’t spend it at the Mississippi Queen this week, then you missed the best dollar’s worth of rock ‘n’ roll to come to La Crosse in a long time. The Rage played at the Mississippi Queen and for a $1 cover charge, the audience got an earful of some of the band’s good original material and its version of some great golden oldies. Tuesday was not the first appearance in La Crosse for The Rage. It shared the stage at the La Crosse Center with Cheap Trick in March.

Mixed in with the band’s smooth, driving rock roll is a sense of fun. Keyboardist Eric Ericson jumped down onto the dance floor every-time it was his turn to sing lead. With his bouncing blond curls and cherubic face, he was a welcome addition among the dancers. When he was back behind his keyboards, Encson was hopping and bouncing and beaming a wide smile. And every once in a while he would grab one of the stuffed animals arranged around his instrument and make it dance.

One of its songs, which is released as a single and will be on an album, is “Be My Love (Tonight).” The song was written by Joe Lucchesi, vocalist and lead guitarist. It has the flavor of rock ‘n’ roll from the ’60s and early ’70s and is much better than some of the music heard on Top 40 stations.

The name “The Rage” is slightly misleading. It leads one to think of punk bands, razor blades and hair dyed purple. But this band consists of five good-looking, good-sounding guys whose music never even comes close to punk. The tunes are of a romantic flavor and the harmonies are about as far from punk as disco is from polkas. The band’s act is tight and cohesive. The audience rarely gets an opportunity to applaud because one song leads into another.

Though The Rage never released a full album, the band issued a handful of solid singles—many of them recorded at the legendary (and Playboy Club-affiliated) Shade Tree studio in Lake Geneva. There’s the power-pop goodness of “Hey Little Girl”…

…the ’80s hair-rock vibe of “Burnin'”…

…and the New Wave groove of “All Around The World.” The latter can be enjoyed via a top-notch video made for a cable station in 1983.

Rock on, The Rage—then, now, in Milwaukee, and all around the world.

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“MKE Music Rewind” archive

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.