I knew this was coming. Not this album because I knew nothing about the group other
than they had a cheesy and remarkably cliche 80s hard rock (“heavy metal”) name. But, I knew the band would show up at least once. I am also predicting a Kix album, a Raven album, possibly a Saxon album and a Motörhead album in the next 46 entries in Eugeology: Eugene’s List of Hard Rock Albums and Possible Gems. That’s not a knock or a bad thing, just a prediction. I welcome them all. I do want to hear/read Jon’s take on this. We had a discussion this past week about the list and what we’re either getting out of it or what’s surprising us. He’s a different perspective than Eugene and I but, again, that’s the point. But, here we go:
#4 – Vices by Kick Axe.
(Note – There is a self-rebuttal to this at the end. I listened again, later.)
Well, if nothing else, this gave me a smile, a few chuckles and a lot of shaking of my head. Not that it’s bad. Okay, it is bad, but it has great comedic value. As per Eugene’s request, I listened to the album via headphones. I think that brought out the bass, which Victor Langen does a good job of when he’s not just pedaling; which thankfully isn’t a lot.
What it also brings out, though, is the tinny thinness of George Criston’s vocals. When he’s rough and gritty, there’s power; his screams are blaring if not screeching. Otherwise, I wasn’t impressed. The lyrics are quintessentially 1984. I mean, I can’t really make fun of it because I listened to stuff equally as cheesy (have you heard a lot of the lyrics on Animalize or Crazy Nights from KISS?), but when there are lyrics like “She’s cruel, sly and shameless and she’s always on the prowl. Looking longing, sets her sights and so she growls. Sinkin’ up inside, your hands run through your hair. Know just when to give in when she drags you to her lair,” I can’t take that seriously. In their defense, most of that genre was like that at the time.
The riffs aren’t bad, they have some decent merit here. Larry Gillstrom and Raymond Harvey hold down those duties fairly well. Their rhythms and solo work is above average and tasteful. The other Gillstrom brother, Brian, holds down the beat and is solidly on the beat (which I can’t really say for the backing vocals). None of the band are especially virtuoso-calibur, which I don’t think was their intention, anyway. They’re wanting to have fun and create a fun atmosphere, I believe. They seemed to have fun. I wish I could say I had more fun listening to it.
The overall production is oddly thin, yet partly muddy, which I found disappointed considering Spencer Proffer produced it and I really enjoyed what he did on Quiet Riot’s Metal Health and Condition Critical. Also, while this list, thus far, has reminded me how much I dug and have missed listening to hard rock, it also reminds me of the stuff that I didn’t like and why. This would be that. I mean no offense to Eug or the band, I just didn’t get into listening to it. There are a few good tunes, though: “Just Passin’ Through” is my favorite on the album. It’s really the only one I could name by name that I liked. There were pieces throughout that I dug, even in the songs that I didn’t care for. It didn’t suck, I just didn’t care much for it. I’ve enjoyed everything else we’ve reviewed, even the Skynyrd album (which I hang my head for even admitting to), this wasn’t not enjoyable, just didn’t move me, at all. Sorry, Eug.
I want to hear his take on this and I am very interested in Jon’s. Check them out and thanks for reading all of the entries.
Okay, upon the second listen, I have to change some of the things I wrote initially. I left the original writing in to show that I can reconsider my thoughts.
Criston’s voice is still annoying but mostly in “Dreamin’ About You.” He’s got more power than I heard the first time. I can’t explain why I was hearing it differently, other than I listened then with headphones in the studio and the second time at home. I do wish, too, that they would have done more with the 12-string motif at the end of “Stay on Top.” That sounded cool, the sonic quality was better and it was rich. I would have liked to have had that extended.
I double down on Victor Langen’s bass playing. He’s pretty good. I noticed a bit more keyboards the second time but there’s not listing for who’s playing it. It’s mostly ambience, though, so no big deal. I still keep hearing “Magneto” instead of “Maneater” in the song of the same name. So, overall, my feelings didn’t change much, but I wanted to give it another shake to be fair and do my due diligence. I liked it a little better the second time around. I did like “On the Road to Rock” and “Cause For Alarm” on the second listen.
I also rescind the “it is bad” part. It’s not. It’s not great, by any means, but it’s not bad. It’s not a bad listen, actually. Don’t know that I’ll listen again, but you never know.
*rebuttal over and out*
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Beyond the words of beauty and desire, a memory of you sets me on fire. Your voice was magic, your eye’s would paralyze. I fell under your spell, I was mesmerized. I wish you would make it real.” – “Dreamin’ About You” (Kick Axe?)