Providence was not the type of music that would go over too well in a smokey Rockford area Bar in 1982, and Tom Nali was getting the itch to play music in front of a live audience again. So, he talked me (Craig) Jeff and Joe into reviving Tom’s rock band, The Rhyme.

This was Tom’s band all the way. With a few exceptions, Tom chose most of the cover songs we would play. Tom was a veteran at live gig’s, with his previous formations of the Rhyme, and he also played drums in his Dad’s band.

Jeff and Joe had some live experience playing with Mark Dahlgren’s Puppet band, but I had never sung in front of a live crowd. That would change on Friday, June the 11th, 1982, when The Rhyme played at CJ’s in front of a handful of barely interested beer drinking patrons. 

We played mostly rock ‘n’ roll oldies, with a few cool but obscure songs and a few popular “hits” of the day. We played CJ’s every Friday & Saturday, and one Thursday in June of 1982. It was the most terrifying, and fun 3 hours in my young musical career.

After that, we got a few gig’s opening for Robin Banks and New Toy at Plaza Suite, The Mating Place and Park Place, in Rockford, before heading back to CJ’s August 13th and 14th.

I don’t remember why, or exactly when Jeff and Joe grew tired of The Rhyme, but I think they “retired” around the end of August 1982.

After Jeff and Joe left, Tom and I started working on original music. Tom would play and record the drums, bass, guitar and keyboards, and play them all very well. And he was a master at getting an incredible sound with a 4 track tape recorder.

Tom and I recorded close to 75 songs, with just the two of us, we were very efficient.

“During the American Pop sessions, I would go over to Tom’s and plug in a guitar, while Tom jumped on the drums. Tom would get a groove going and I would noodle on the guitar until I found a riff that sounded cool. The structure of the riff would then suggest a chord progression for the verse, chorus, and bridge. While all that was evolving I would sing gibberish until a melody was found that matched the mood of the tune. Usually one or two phrases would emerge from the gibberish and those provided the lyrical theme of the song. Entire songs would generally take shape like this in half an hour or less. Tom would then go to work on polishing it all up and refining the lyrics. And that’s basically the formula we followed for most of the songs here. It was an incredibly productive period for both of us. Members of the Rhyme would each add their stylistic component to what you hear on these recordings.” - Brad Anderson on the songwriting process.

After a little time recording, Tom recruited drummer Rick Mattelig, and Dave Hedden on bass. Dave owned a PA system, and Rick owned an old school bus, We were ready to roll. And in June of 1983 we started playing out. Rick and Dave were in the The Rhyme before Tom called an end to the band, and joined me in the Providence recordings.

A short time later, we got a young bass player from Clinton Wisconsin, Brian “Tork” Torkilson, and Dave switched to rhythm guitar.

From here on, The Rhyme would start to play more and more “original” songs with the popular cover songs that “worked”.

We did go into the recording studio with the full band a couple times, the first time at  Castle Recording, in Lake Geneva, and Audio Trak in Rockford to re-record some of the better songs.

Rockford had a cable access TV show (WPTI) sponsored by a local FM rock station (WYFE 95.3) in the early 80’s that would feature the popular videos of the time, and local area bands would also come in to play live. The show was called Radio Vision and The Rhyme would do the show with a ”twist”. We had watched the show, and noticed one thing, the audio sound quality and mix of the local bands was always terrible. So, in 1984, when we showed up for our “gig”, we asked if we could lip sync our songs with our own high quality recordings. The studio engineers just smiled, great! less work for us, we don’t have to set up all the microphones, monitors and amps. We played “On Monday”, “The One” written by Dave and Craig, and  “Know Me Better” a song that won us a spot on the local “battle of the bands” album sponsored by Y95. This was way before the Milli Vanilli lip sync scandal, so we were cool, and of course we sounded pretty good. After the Milli Vanilli incident, it would no longer be cool to lip sync.

Tom always wanted to be one step ahead of the current or popular musical trend, so around 1985 Tom decided to change the direction and sound of the band, and started writing songs with a slightly darker, less poppy sound, with more keyboards.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, but the songs were pretty good, and a bit more challenging to sing.

We got one song on a local radio program and the DJ compared our sound to U2. We didn’t hear any resemblance at all, but it was a nice compliment.

I don’t recall exactly why I decided to retire from the Rhyme, but it may have been due to my love of the older “poppier” songs over the newer darker songs. I remember there were a few discussions in the band about the direction change, and Tom’s “overproduction” on the demo tapes, but nothing too bad. Besides, it was Tom’s band and he always had the final word. In the end, I think the new songs were better than the old ones, but they didn’t go over as well when played live in a bar.

Tom, thank you for taking me under your wing, and helping me become a rock ‘n’ roll singer. You changed my life for the better.

Thomas Nali 1955-2010.