Cleopatra Records [Release date 21.10.16]
Vastly underrated yet hugely influential, Finnish legends Hanoi Rocks are said to have sold one million albums back in the Eighties. That is not many when you consider that without them we would not have the likes of Guns N Roses or Poison and the 80’s Sunset Strip, and Hair Metal scenes, would have looked very different indeed. With an infectious mix of glam rock, punk, ballads and reggae it is not an overstatement to say Hanoi Rocks changed the direction of rock music in the early Eighties.
This new “Strange Boys Box” from Cleopatra Records covers the band’s first four studio albums “Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks”, “Oriental Beat”, “Self-Destruction Blues” and “Back To The Mystery City” and live album “All Those Wasted Years”. All released between 1981 and 1984, and before the band’s career was abruptly halted by the car crash that killed drummer Razzle.
Frontman Michael Monroe and guitarist Andy McCoy have a similar dynamic to the likes of Jagger/Richards or Tyler/Perry and when you add bassist Sami Yaffa and guitarist Nasty Suicide you get a line-up that should have taken over the world – and once drummer Razzle joined the band in 1982 it looked like they actually might pull it off.
Amongst the five albums here are such classic tracks as “Taxi Driver”, “Don’t You Ever Leave Me”, “Mental Beat”, “Motorvatin’” and “Oriental Beat”- staples of the band’s live set and firm fan favourites. However, if you dig a little deeper you find such treasures as “Kill City Kills”, “M.C Baby”, “Tooting Bec Wreck”, “Village Girl”, “Love’s An Injection”, “No Law or Order” or the prophetically titled “Dead By X-mas”.
Hanoi Rocks are the one band in my record collection that I probably couldn’t live without, and so for me as a massive fan of the band, I would have liked something extra here. For example, the band’s major label debut “Two Steps From The Move” is missing, or maybe the long out of print DVD of the Marquee show that is “All Those Wasted Years”. Or the disc that would have gone down a treat in the “Strange Boys Box”- a bonus disc of singles, B-sides and rarities.
That said Cleopatra Records have done a good job of packaging the five albums in sleeves recreating the original album artwork and the booklet includes many rare pictures and excerpts from the band’s biography, which has also just been released in English for the first time. I’d say this boxset will appeal more to Hanoi Rocks’ fans more than the casual listener looking to broaden their collection, but that makes it all the more special. *****
Review by Nikk Gunns
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