Ranking All the REO Speedwagon Studio Albums

REO Speedwagon

Starting in 1967 was the American rock band from Champaign, Illinois, called REO Speedwagon. During the 1970s, as a group, they developed for themselves a devoted collection of fans that idolized the band and its music. Going into the 1980s, the height of commercial success for REO Speedwagon was at its best. When founders Neal Doughty and Alan Gratzer met as students at an Illinois university, the two formed a band that would include Joe Matt and Mike Blair. The 1915 truck that was made by the REO Motor Car Company served as the inspirational decision for the group to call themselves REO Speedwagon.

R.E.O. Discography

R.E.O. Speedwagon was the debut album that was released via Epic Records in 1971. Up to that point, a number of changes were made to the band’s roster with Doughty and Gratzer remaining, but now with Terry Luttrell as the lead singer, Gary Richrath replacing Joe Matt on guitar, and Gregg Philbin replacing Mike Blair on bass. It served as the only album Luttrell served as the band’s lead singer. He was soon replaced by Kevin Cronin, who still remains with REO Speedwagon to this day, despite a brief hiatus he took due to creative differences. There are sixteen studio albums in total REO Speedwagon has recorded and released in total, as well as ten live albums, nineteen compilation albums, fifteen video albums, and thirty-four singles.

16. Lost in a Dream

The fourth studio album, (Lost in a Dream), was released in 1974 and peaked at number ninety-eight on the US Billboard 200 albums chart in 1975. It is also the second album that would feature Mike Murphy on vocals as Kevin Corbin was not with the band at this time. None of the songs from the album charted. When it was released as a CD copy in 1992, the production run only lasted for two months.

15. R.E.O. Speedwagon

In 1971, REO Speedwagon releases their first studio album, which was done through the Epic Records label. Among the eight tracks recorded on it, (Sophisticated Lady) was the most recognized at the time, which Billboard Magazine charted it at 122 on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 in its 1972 publication. (R.E.O. Speedwagon) is the one and only album that would feature Terry Luttrell as the band’s lead vocalist as he left the band shortly afterward to join another progressive rock band, Starcastle.

14. Building the Bridge

The album (Building the Bridge) was released in 1996 as the band’s fourteenth studio album. It was the first album since 1972 that would not find a spot on any of the album rankings chart. It is also the only studio album from the band that cannot be found on the iTunes Store, but the title track is available on REO’s greatest hits compilation album, (The Essential REO Speedwagon). When Bill Clinton sought re-election in 1996, the album’s title track was the song of choice used in his campaign run. Building the Bridge was an album loaded with ballads, something of which is quite different from the progressive hard rock output REO Speedwagon is best known for.

13. Find Your Own Way Home

(Find Your Own Way Home) is REO Speedwagon’s fifteenth studio album, which was released in 2007. It would be the fourth out of five albums recorded by the band that would not find a spot on any of the album ranking charts. It is also the first band produced in eleven years, one which saw the return to the progressive hard rock REO Speedwagon is best known for. While the album itself may not have achieved any chart recognition, it did bring forth the hit single, (I Needed to Fall), which appeared on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at number twenty-five. Its title track also appeared on the same chart as it peaked at number twenty-three.

12. Not So Silent Night…Christmas with REO Speedwagon

Released on November 3, 2009, the sixteenth and final studio album REO Speedwagon has produced so far was (Not So Silent Night…Christmas with REO Speedwagon). On July 1, 2010, the album was released a second time with three bonus tracks. The album was recorded and produced as the band’s contribution to the Christmas spirit.

11. The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken

1990’s (The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken) is the thirteenth album recorded and released by REO Speedwagon. The album appeared at the 129th spot on the US Billboard 200 albums chart and it also featured two hit singles that realized moderate billboard success. (Love Is a Rock) charted at its best on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart at number thirty-one while (Live It Up) peaked even higher at number six when it was released shortly after it.

10. R.E.O.

The sixth album, (R.E.O.) was released in 1976 and peaked on the US Billboard 200 albums chart at 159. The fondest reference to the album is the cow-like background featured on it and is even dubbed “cow” by the fans. It was the final album to have bassist Gregg Philbin as part of the lineup, who had been with REO Speedwagon since the 1971 recording of their debut album. Philbin would be replaced by Bruce Hall, who is still with the band today. None of the songs coming from this album made a chart appearance, but are favorites by fans of the band who care more about the progressive rock impression it gives them than chart rankings.

9. This Time We Mean It

The third and final time Mike Murphy would perform as a lead vocalist for REO Speedwagon was via (This Time We Mean It), an album that was released in 1975. Although it appeared at number seventy-four on the US Billboard 200 albums chart, none of the ten songs featured on it did.

8. Ridin’ the Storm Out

On the US Billboard 200 albums list, (Ridin’ the Storm Out) was ranked at number 171 eight years after it was released in 1973. It is REO Speedwagon’s third studio album, but the first with Mike Murphy as lead vocalist. By 1989, the album became certified by the Recording Industry Association of America for having over one million copies of it sold. The lead track and the album were an inspiration by the band after their experience with a winter blizzard that overtook Boulder, Colorado while they were there. Murphy was unable to make a hit out of the song upon its initial release, but when Kevin Corbin returned as REO Speedwagon’s lead singer and sang it at a live performance, the song became a hit then.

7. R.E.O./T.W.O.

The second studio album recorded by REO Speedwagon is the first to feature Kevin Corbin as the band’s lead singer. It would also be the last for a few years as creative differences caused him to depart on his own. In 1972, (R.E.O./T.W.O.) was released and despite its failure to appear on any official albums charts, it was favorable enough among the fans that would see it become certified Gold with US’s RIAA by 1981.

6. Life as We Know It

The twelfth album from REO Speedwagon, (Life as We Know It) was released in 1987 and earned itself Gold certification by US’s RIAA. On the US Billboard 200 albums chart, the album appeared at number twenty-eight and it was the final time REO Speedwagon would see an album of theirs appear within the top forty of the Billboard’s charting system. It’s also the last album Gary Richrath and Alan Gratzer would record with the band as tensions between Richrath and Kevin Corbin began to mount to the point where somebody needed to make an exit and it was Richrath. There were three charted singles that came from the album. The first was (That Ain’t Love), which charted as high as number five on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and at number sixteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. The second, (Variety Tonight), peaked at number twenty-eight on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and appeared at number sixty on the US Billboard Hot 100. The third and final single from the album is (In My Dreams), which charted at number nineteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at number six on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart instead of appearing on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

5. Nine Lives

In 1979, (Nine Lives) sees the eighth studio album released by REO Speedwagon that would quickly become certified Gold by USA’s RIAA. US Billboard 200 charted the album at number thirty-three and was the final album that would feature the hard-hitting progressive rock REO Speedwagon had been so well known for. None of the singles officially charted, but the album overall is highly favored among REO fans who preferred this style of music the band started out with before they softened their edge to become pop-rock friendlier.

4. You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish

1978’s (You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish) was REO Speedwagon’s most successfully successful album during the 1970s era. In addition to ranking at number twenty-nine on the US Billboard 200 albums chart, it also became double-Platinum by RIAA’s certification standards for having over two million of its copies sold in America. This was the first album co-produced by Gary Richrath and the returning Kevin Corbin. While the album’s title and artwork did not receive favorable reviews, the music on it did. The hit singles that did chart only peaked as high as number fifty-eight with (Roll with the Changes) and at number fifty-six with (Time for Me to Fly) on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2021, an alternated version of the album’s second hit was used as a campaign promoting tourism for the state of Illinois. It was titled “Time for Me to Drive.”

3. Good Trouble

In 1982, (Good Trouble) was released as REO Speedwagon’s tenth studio album. It also became certified Platinum two times over by USA’s RIAA. The lead single, (Keep the Fire Burnin’) was a globally successful hit by charting as high as number ten on Canada’s RPM Singles Chart and at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. It peaked as high as number eight on Poland’s Lista Przebojów Programu Trzeciego (LPM) music chart.

2. Wheels Are Turnin’

REO Speedwagon’s eleventh studio album, (Wheels Are Turnin’) was released in 1984 and reached number seven on the US Billboard 200 albums chart. It has since become certified Platinum two times over by USA’s RIAA and single Platinum with Music Canada (MC). There were four charted singles that came from the album, which included the chart-topping (Can’t Fight This Feeling). The cult-favorite peaked at number one on a number of highly respectable music charts, including the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as Canada’s RPM Singles Chart. The single itself became certified Gold by USA’s RIAA and Canada’s MC, as well as Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

1. Hi Infidelity

The most successful album REO Speedwagon recorded and produced was also the highest-charting. (Hi Infidelity) was the band’s official break away from the progressive hard rock genre they started off with into a slightly softer pop-rock approach that would finally earn the group a level of global recognition they deserved. The album was released on November 1, 1980, and it peaked at the very top spot on the US Billboard 200 albums chart. After the album was certified Platinum ten times by the US’s RIAA, it earned a Diamond certification. For the year 1981, Hi Infidelity was the highest-selling rock album. Despite this achievement, the Grammy Awards failed to recognize the album to give it, nor the band, any recognition. However, this didn’t stop REO Speedwagon from dominating the music charts with a series of hits that also became chart-toppers, which added nice little feathers to Hi Infidelity’s cap.

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One Comment

  1. “Cow” is under-appreciated. That album is solid gold. Critics always disregard it; fans always put it near the top.

    Not how I’d rank them, but I can’t deny your top four picks are all solid albums. Still, if you want the general opinion, look it up on ranker.com

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