Everything every 80’s glam band wanted to be, from the pop sensibilities of Poison to the debauchery of Motley Crue to the street-wise attitude of Guns N Roses, is right here wrapped up in the package of one band…Hanoi Rocks.
Now I know Guns N Roses isn’t a glam band per se, but the success of “Appetite for Destruction” in my thinking brought to fruition the massive recognition that would have belonged to Hanoi Rocks if not for their tragic demise. Indeed, the photos of Guns N Roses from this era (before Axl tried to become Elton John) exhibit a band who were effectively an American-born incarnation of Hanoi Rocks, a fact respectfully exhibited by the Gunners overseeing the American release of the entire HR catalogue on their own UZI Suicide label.
Hanoi Rocks had the melodies and hooks to rival any great rock bands and a street punk mentality that was off the hook. Imagine the New York Dolls with more fun, better songs and the ability to actually play their instruments and you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll find here. They were perched on the precipice of success in the US when it all came to an abrupt halt after drummer Nicholas Dingley (aka Razzle) took a fateful December 1984 ride to the liquor store with Motley Crue’s Vince Neil at the wheel, resulting in Dingley’s drunk driving death.
The album kicks off with one of the greatest remakes of all time, Hanoi Rocks giving CCR’s “Up Around The Bend” such an enthusiastic and adrenalized treatment that the song might as well be their own. The rock rocks and the honest emotions flow on the more atmospheric tracks like “Underwater World” and sweetly sentimental “Don’t You Ever Leave Me.” The spoken word parts on the latter come across as sincere rather than cheesy. “Underwater World” includes the phrase ‘…welcome to the jungle’ which would see the light of day some 4 years later as a signature track on GNR’s “Appetite For Destruction.”
Lead vocalist Michael Monroe has a baritone wail that clashes nicely with his bleach-blonde androgynous image, providing undeniable shock value while he wraps his red lipstick-covered lips around the saxophone for a nasty solo on album closer “Cutting Corners.” This is everything glam SHOULD be, from the melodies and hooks to the fun and sense of danger.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5