It feels like we’re back in the late 80s and hair metal heaven this week with new releases from the Crue (pictured), Danger Danger, Lynch Mob and House Of Lords dominating the rushonrock reviews round-up. And it feels just great.
Keeping a more traditional sound alive are the excellent Alberta Cross with their soulful 70s-influenced vibe. And then there’s those crazy dudes from Gong who deliver another slice of psychedelic prog rock just in time to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary.
Motley Crue – Dr Feelgood Deluxe Edition (Eleven Seven Music/Motley Records/Universal)
There’s an old adage that if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it and attempting to tweak perfection always has its pitfalls. This is, in the eyes of fans and critics alike, the definitive Crue record, fusing their early sleaze sensibilities with a heavy dose of hair metal excess. So is the deluxe edition an even dirtier case of the devil’s music?
It doesn’t sound too different despite the 2009 remix – a testimony to the original ice cool production job from the legendary Bob Rock. But listening to the title track and tunes like Kickstart My Heart and Without You remind us that last year’s Saints Of Los Angeles isn’t half as good as Crue and their fans make out.
This is the real deal but disc two – the so-called bonus CD – doesn’t feel like it belongs in a ‘deluxe’ package. Five demos are thrown together with four songs from theMoscow leg of the band’s Live Around The World tour and of these the raucous Girls, Girls, Girls is by far the pick.
Given a little more imagination this second CD could have meant so much more to the serious Crue collector and new convert alike. It’s not enough to sell deluxe editions on the back of 20th anniversaries and the like – in a congested market the USP is everything and there’s nothing particularly unique about Dr Feelgood in 2009.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Return Of The Feelgood Factor
Danger Danger – Revolve (Frontiers)
Bands like Danger Danger owe much of their party rock sound to the Crue and this excellent comeback record from the uber talented Ted Poley and his buddies is 100% hair metal by numbers. Brilliant stuff.
With hit album Screw It! now an incredible 18 years old the 2009 version of D2 turn back time to reproduce the glory days and gain a fresh foothold in the newly invigorated melodic rock landscape. Hearts On The Highway wouldn’t sound out of the place on the new Bon Jovi album and the ballad Fugitive is a fantastic piece of work.
As a solo artist Poley has proved that he never lost the trademark vocal style which took D2 to the brink of the big time back in hair metal’s heyday. But this record confirms he’s best served fronting the band he always loved best.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Danger – High Voltage!
Alberta Cross – Broken Side Of Time (Ark Recordings)
First off, be warned. Vocalist Petter Ericson Stakee sounds spookily like a pumped up David Gray across this record. But if you can get past that unfortunate likeness there’s a real gem of a soulful 70s-inspired record waiting to grab the attention of post-Kings Of Leon fans everywhere.
The title track is a good place to start with its epic, sporadically heavy and brooding soundscape. Rhythm section Terry Wolfers and Austin Beede are so tight throughout this tune they could be Siamese twins joined at the hip groove. It’s heart pumping stuff.
Current single ATX is an atypically pacy affair aimed at making some kind of commercial impression but overall Alberta Cross allow their best music the space to develop into something approaching KOL’s finer moments. The undergorund classic of the year? Quite possibly.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Get Cross
Gong – 2032 (G-Wave)
With no clue what to expect from the French prog super group a tense rushonrock staff gathered around the stereo to open its collective mind to some serious late 60s-style psychedelia. And it was a bloody good laugh from start to finish.
Whether humming along to the Spinal Tap meets Highland jig silliness of Dance With The Pixies or enjoying the ‘Chas N Dave on acid’ effort that is Wacky Baccy Banker this is one of the craziest albums you’ll hear all year. Or possibly ever.
Fair play to Daevid Allen and his mates for still possessing the vivid imagination to add to the Gong legacy. And thanks to all concerned for putting a smile on the faces of rock hacks searching for light relief in the face of some seriously heavy shit. Both inspired and ridiculous.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Gong Warfare
Lynch Mob – Smoke And Mirrors (Frontiers)
In a week where the competition is so tough it could make grown men cry there’s one album which stands out from the crowd. This is an absolute belter of a melodic rock record as George Lynch hooks up with Oni Logan to deliver a luscious range of classic anthems spanning generations.
The ex-Dokken man has always been able to riff with the best of them but this is a true masterclass is modern electric guitar wizardry. From stunning opener 21st Century Man thru the glorious Lucky Man and into Revolution Hero this a lesson on how to embrace the past and make a statement for the future.
Frontiers have released three cracking records this month – all of which would have been worthy big hitters two decades ago and all of which deserve to be now. But Lynch Mob take the prize for the best of the best. Just awesome.
rushonrock rated: 10/10 Mob Rule
House Of Lords – Cartesian Dreams (Frontiers)
“Saved by rock, like a holy electric shock”, sings James Christian without a hint of irony as House Of Lords deliver one of the cheesiest and best lyrics of the year. In a week when revisiting the 80s hair metal era appears prerequisite the track Saved By Rock is possibly the most ridiculous/brilliant homage to that golden age.
Elsewhere there’s nothing ridiculous about another solid gold release from a band who just don’t do below par records. The ballad-tastic Sweet September will send a shiver down the spine of any fan of the slower stuff and Robin Beck (Christian’s other half) adds a surprisingly wild touch to the rocking Repo Man.
Everyone from Aerosmith to Richard Marx appears to have influenced an album rich in power chord goodness and it seems that, thanks to House Of Lords, we’ve once again been Saved By Rock.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 House Of Fun