The adolescent Rubinoos’ inclusion on Beserkley’s highly selective roster may have been related to the fact that guitarist T.V. Dunbar had a brother in Earthquake, the label’s charter band. Or it may simply have been that someone noticed they were a great, fresh-sounding pop band with talent far beyond their tender years. A clear, no-frills approach, solid original songs and convincing vocals (from Jon Rubin, the group’s namesake) made them eminently likable, and earned the band a moderate national hit with Tommy James’ “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Their first album, which included the single, also boasted a nifty white-soul tune called “Hard to Get” and a lightly raucous rave-up, “Rock and Roll Is Dead.” Although a bit bland, The Rubinoos doesn’t have one bad song, half-baked performance or dumb lyric. Slight but fun.
Their second album, named after the band’s brush with the big time, found them a bit more mature but less self-assured. Except for one superb Raspberries soundalike (“I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”), the record seems too anxious to please, and suffers from noticeable timidity and fewer memorable songs.
Reduced to a duo of Rubin and Dunbar, the Rubinoos drifted back into view four years later with Party of Two, a disposable EP of five slick pop songs produced and played by Todd Rundgren and Utopia. All the right components are in place — melodies, harmonies, meaningless lyrics, etc. — but there’s no youthful spark left to ignite any serious excitement.