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Unknown Classic - 95%

gunnarvl, August 29th, 2010

Vow Wow III was originally released as "Shock Waves" on the Capital label on LP and cassette in the USA back in 1985. For many years it was available as a highly sought after, out of print, unaffordable, import-only CD on little known collectable specialty sites. Now after more than 20 years, it has been re-released at a semi affordable price available on many sites ranging in price from $23.99 on up.

The album remains a classic, albeit an unknown one. Featuring 10 songs from the legendary Japanese band formerly known as Bow Wow, Vow Wow III features the awesome vocals of one Mr. Genki Hitomi. Hitomi is an all purpose singer. His voice can be gritty and rough, yet also smooth and clear. Throughout the album he often sounds similar to Graham Bonnet. Hitomi sings in English and one would be hard pressed to know that the band is Japanese from listening to him sing. He is fluent throughout. I am surprised that he never joined up with an American or European metal act after his Vow Wow days were over, because his vocal abilities are absolutely superb.

The songs are all heavy, with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple influences cropping up often enough to notice them, yet with a modern 1980's metal sound.

It is difficult to focus on the albums prime cuts since all of the material is so strong, but "Shot In The Dark" with its keyboard driven riff courtesy of Rei Atsumi and 85 mph pace was the initial catchy song to this reviewers ears. "Running Wild" is also terrific as is "Stay Close Tonight", "Doncha Wanna Cum (Hanger 18), "Nightless City", "Go Insane", "Signs of the Times", and "Shock Waves". Any of these mentioned songs could have made a big impact on MTV or the radio at the time of this records original USA release. They are extremely catchy, yet heavy compositions with a good deal of depth both musically and lyrically.

The guitarist Kyoji Yamamoto is a Japanese guitar god and his work is stellar, bringing to mind other great players like Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth.

The album was produced and engineered by Tony Platt and while it does have a big modern 1980's high quality sound, I've always found this particular albums production to sound somewhat busy. Other listeners will need to listen for themselves to fully understand what I mean.

The "Shock Waves" album wasn't promoted by Capital. I've never known anyone other than myself to own a copy. 1985 was a huge year during the 1980's metal movement and Vow Wow probably got lost amongst the multitude of bands enjoying success in the USA at the time. While the re-release of Vow Wow III will unfortunitely not create the success in America that the band deserved, discerning metal afficionados might want to purchase a copy of this and enjoy listening to a total class act's crowning classic moment.