Album review: HANOI ROCKS – Reissues

HANOI ROCKS Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks/Oriental Beat/All Those Wasted Years (Dissonance Productions)

Finish band Hanoi Rocks are a glam sleaze metal band largely responsible for an influence that directed the 80s metal scene.

Formed in 1979 and recording a number of successful albums, they took the 70s glam, punk and American garage rock and adding a high octane fizz, and would be an important instrumental factor on bands like Motley Crue, Skid Row and Guns’n’Roses.

Fronted by vocalist, saxophonist and harmonica player Michael Monroe, Hanoi Rocks also featured guitarists Andy McCoy and Nasty Suicide, bassist Sami Yaffa (who has worked with Monroe more recently) and drummer Gyp Casino.

Their 1981 debut, Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks recorded between club shows, kicks off with ‘Tragedy’, an instantly catchy number, a decent melody, excellent guitar work and an attitude that struck a chord.

Whether the garage of MC5 or the swagger of the Rolling Stones, the chemistry here was right, there are some great songs although the production is far from great. All the songs, bar the cover of Carole King’s “Walking With My Angel”, were written by guitarist Andy McCoy.  ****

1982’s Oriental Beat continued in a similar vein, opening markets in Japan and the UK. Musically a favourite but the band are critical due to the shoddy production and mixing, and the drummer’s heroin addiction didn’t help (he was fired soon after the recording).

Again Andy McCoy took the lion’s share of song writing, and there’s a cover of Hoyt Axton’s ‘Lightning Bar Blues’.  ***

Move on a couple of studio albums (why not do the whole lot), and we get a fantastic live album recorded late in 1983 at the Marquee, London All Those Wasted Years.  ****

Live the band are in their element, full of energy, and Michael Monroe is a great frontman. By this time the band had pretty much relocated to London and the band also featured drummer Razzle.

As a live album, and given previous production issues, this is very well recorded. 18 tracks of some of the best punk glam metal you will ever hear. Seriously. With songs from across their catalogue, it’s blistering beginning to end. High octane rock’n’roll, and proof that the band should and could have been so much bigger than they were. The cover of Alice Cooper’s ‘Under My Wheels’ goes down a storm too.

Splits, reforms, a large catalogue that demands exploration. Loads of extras that are not used and some albums from the period not included, big bones of contention and in the current climate are essential sales elements. That said, classic albums that really deserve, and demand, listening.

Review by Ed Stone

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 July.. In the first hour David pays tribute to the blues/rock guitarist Peter Green.

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