Release Date 24.02.17
Despite labouring under a rather ridiculous name, Tokyo Motor Fist (let’s just call them TMF) are actually a match made in heaven between two of the East Coast based melodic rock mafia in Trixter guitarist Steve Brown and extrovert singer Ted Poley, best known for his work in Danger Danger.
With a sound that fuses both their trademarks, the opening trio of songs are nothing less than outstanding. ‘Picking Up The Pieces’ has the big sound, vocals and hooks of Pyromania-era Def Leppard, perhaps not surprising as Steve has occasionally deputised for Vivian Campbell during his illness, ‘Love Me Insane’ is more Danger Danger-ish but takes on a joyfully uptempo feel with a soaring Schon-esque solo and ‘who-oah’ chanting and the bright melodies and catchy choruses of ‘Shameless’ were naggingly familiar: I eventually traced them to Diving For Pearls’ ‘Gimme Your Good Lovin’.
In his chequered career, Ted seems to be singing better than ever. While last year’s solo album Beyond The Fade was a relatively mellow AOR affair, this time he benefits from Steve’s uncanny ability to write memorable guitar-based hooks that drive the songs, and which made Trixter’s ‘Human Era’ one of the best releases of the last couple of years. My one reservation is that at times, as is increasingly common with these types of releases, the rhythm section (provided by seasoned players Chuck Burgi and Greg Smith) is buried rather thinly deep in the mix.
There are a variety of styles – ‘Love’ has a smoother sound while still being upbeat, ‘You’re My Revolution’ has the faster tempo of the power pop Steve explored in 40 Foot Ringo, while ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ is the big ballad, with a guitar sound that reminded me of the Scorpions’ classics in this style.
However the Leppard comparisons are the strongest and continue with ‘Put Me To Shame’, again with a Pyromania feel, and Ted straining at rougher-edged vocals than usual, and ‘Done To Me’ which has the staccato beats and big gang vocals of their ‘Hysteria’-period output.
The melodic, midtempo ‘Get You Off My Mind’ is a distant cousin of Danger Danger’s ‘I Still Think About You’ and another uptempo rocker in ‘Falling Apart’ ends an album whose songs could have been all over US radio and MTV back in this genre’s eighties heyday.
Last year another Danger Danger offshoot, The Defiants, made one of the best feel-good melodic rock albums of the year. This album is cut from similar cloth and I can easily see this appearing in the 2017 best ofs. It may tread a well worn path but when it’s this good, who cares? **** 1/2
Review by Andy Nathan
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