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Sal Baglio (The Amplifier Heads) ~ Special Guest On 4/11/2024

On Friday, March 1, Sal Baglio’s vaunted rock and roll project The Amplifier Heads team up with soul dynamo vocalist Barrence Whitfield to unleash their pummeling new single “They Came To Rock” via Rum Bar Records. 

It’s the title track to the soundtrack of Songs From They Came To Rock, Executive Producer Norty Cohen’s immersive rock opera about an alien invasion that first debuted in Nashville three years ago, detailing a story about extraterrestrials coming to Earth – which they call The Vinyl Frontier – in search of the type of music heard through static and noise on their radio. Who are they, and what do they want? 

Ready to rock out, the aliens have now landed close to home, as the pair of longtime Boston music scene veterans – known for work that spans decades: Baglio first in rock scene pioneers The Stompers; Whitfield dominating stages across New England fronting The Savages – come together for a fiery and attention-grabbing single that sets a loud tone for the 10-song, eight interlude soundtrack. 

“The term rock opera has come to mean different things to anyone's interpretation,” Baglio says. “There is a lyrical and musical line that follows through the record. Some fantasy, some fact. It is a musical speed rocket trip and the seat belt sign is off!”

“They Came To Rock” is the third single from the forthcoming record, following last fall’s Jen D'Angora-led “Something Went Down” – about the most famous UFO event in England's history, taking places at Rendlesham Forest on Christmas 1980 – and 2022’s “Space Cadette,” which received heavy airplay and attention on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SiriusXM, about Betty and Barney Hill’s 1961 encounter of a UFO on a deserted highway in New Hampshire.

Written and produced by Baglio, who also performs guitar, mellotron, glockenspiel, and backing vocals, “They Came To Rock” features Samantha Goddess on vocals; Brad Hallen on bass; Kevin Rapillo on drums and percussion; Tom West on piano; Henley Douglas Jr. on baritone sax; and David Bryce on theremin. But it’s Whitfield who helps take it across the galaxy and back again, hurling through his vocals like a man possessed.      

Songs From They Came To Rock is a soundtrack record and I felt that it should have different voices besides my own for various tracks,” Baglio adds. “Barrence Whitfield was the only artist I thought of for singing the title track. Barrence is a brilliant instinctual artist and his interpretation of the song kicked it up and out of this stratosphere.” 

Baglio has been cranking out hits since The Stompers first came on the scene in the late-’70s, and here, he’s crafted a barnstorming, rabble-rousing, barroom throwdown of a brass-led tune that gets gritty on the low-end and soars skyward with sing-along infectiousness up top. And though a new Amplifier Heads record is in the works, he’s leaned into Songs From They Came To Rock as it prepares to hit the theater stage once again after the soundtrack drops. Unsurprisingly, “They Came To Rock,” the single, came together especially fast.  

“I had literally just been introduced to Executive Producer Norty Cohen by our mutual friend and fellow songwriter Jamie Rubin,” Baglio notes. “In that meeting Norty explained his idea and that he was looking for songs. I asked if he had a title song for Songs From They Came To Rock – to which he replied ‘no’ …and I said ‘I’ll be right back’. I ended up writing about 10 songs for the show and then kept writing with another group of songs that turned out to be The Amplifier Heads SaturnalienS album released on Rum Bar Records [in 2021].”  

The batch of songs on They Came To Rock all swirl around a central theme of an alien invasion. But instead of UFOs coming to Earth to cause death and destruction, like we usually see portrayed on television and in the movies, these friendly little green men are here for one purpose and one purpose only – yeah, they came to rock. The original live show, reviewed by Rolling Stone,  featured live music, Baglio’s songs, projection, and live burlesque dancing aliens. “My wife was pretty upset about the space ship we built off the stage for the dancers, since we made the masthead a stripper pole,” Cohen says.

Future plans for the Songs From They Came To Rock album could include more live shows, as Cohen adds: "We're sharing the music and inviting alien-loving rockers into the vibe.”

And they might have already gotten to Baglio, who’s quick to cite a famous line from the 1951 science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still – sung with gusto on the track by Whitfield, who delivers the combination of famous lines like you’ve never heard ‘em before.    

“Klaatu barada nikto, man,” quips Baglio, “a wop be bop a lu bop a wop bam, go johnny go hail hail rock and roll yeah yeah yeah oooh!” 

Beam us up, please.  


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