Album review: LYNCH MOB – The Elektra Years 1990-92 (2 CDs w/bonus tracks)

Cherry Red [Release date 27.08.21]

A 2 CD Lynch Mob package. Wicked Sensation (1990) and Lynch Mob (1992).  All that’s missing is the “best before 1989” label.

And that problem undermined any notion of commercial success.

Either one of these driven, hard rock albums would have sold out everywhere if they’d been released a few years earlier.

They’re chock full of perfectly tailored hard rock. George (Dokken) Lynch’s taut, wiry, torqued up guitar is always played with purpose. There might well be fret melting flurries in among the riffola, but there are no extraneous notes. Everything’s there for a reason.

On Wicked Sensation, the album, Oni Logan’s vocals sits atop the electrifying dynamic shifts created by Lynch, drummer Mick Brown (Lynch’s erstwhile Dokken bandmate) and bass man Anthony Esposito. In that company, it’s hard for a vocalist not to over emote, just to compete.

‘Wicked Sensation’, the track, and ‘River Of Love’ are 4 minute epics of hard rock brilliance, full of tough but buoyant melodies. ‘All I Want’ has something of an unconventional rock swagger, drawing inspiration from the blues, though maybe the best offering here is ‘No Bed Of Roses’, where a simple riff and a basic arrangement undercut the tension and aggression elsewhere.

A tightly edited version of the title track is added to the album as a bonus, slicing half a minute off the original.

Sometimes less is more. ***1/2

Lynch Mob, the album, came two years later. It was more of a band effort, with all members collaborating on the songwriting. Oni Logan had gone, and the superb Robert Mason was upfront.

Like its predecessor, it racked up several complimentary reviews in the music press, but was criminally overlooked by the record buying public, whose attention was fast being diverted toward the USA’s Pacific Northwest.

Still, there are some shrewdly crafted songs here. ‘Jungle Of Love’ and ‘Tangled In the Web’ … the two opening tracks, are huge improvements over most of the debut’s content. It’s fair to say (like a lot of Lynch Mob material) that they are not immediately lovable, but the effort required to get there is part of the payoff.

At times, Logan’s lyrics on ‘Wicked Sensation’ pursued an anguished complexity, aiming to match Lynch’s shadowy guitar phrasings. Here on the follow up, the Brown/Esposito/ Mason lyric writing team try to distance themselves from the over-familiarity of love and lust tropes. Or at least leaven them with the realities of the pain and suffering of life on the street (‘Secret’ and ‘Cold Is The Heart’ are especially effective).

Lynch, of course, is a huge presence. He’s clearly self aware, and works hard to light up the music with the kind of calm intensity that stops short of overloading the band’s musical circuits. It’s impressive.

Bonus tracks ‘Love In Your Eyes’ and ‘Love Finds A Way’ were the original “bonus tracks for Japan”, and could easily have found a place anywhere on the album.  ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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