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This album has really aged well... from the time I got it on tape in '92 or thereabouts, to the time I wore out the tape and didn't listen for a few years, to when I got the CD re-release, to when I couldn't fucking find it anywhere so I didn't listen for a few years, then when I just downloaded the fucking mp3s. Still gotta get this bad boy on Leathur Records vinyl sometime ;-)
When all is said and done, a bit rock-and-rollish at times, but still definitely a metal album. Then again, so is Motorhead. And call me weirdo, call me crazy, but the vibe is there - there's definitely a similarity to their brothers in umlauts. The album isn't quite as raw as say, Ace of Spades, and the cheese factor is a lot higher, but this album has testicles the size of refrigerators and is not afraid to use them. Unlike the straight-up speed metal attack of their next album (Shout at the Devil), this is more midpaced, and "still fit to boogie, still fit to rock and roll" (to quote another early 1980s band with huge fucking balls and a rock star attitude... SAXON of course). The other comparison is of course that band that was burning up the east coast at around the same time... Fire Down Under, none other than Riot.
In fact, this album comes something to a middle ground between the bass-driven distortion cacophany of those crazy Brits, and the twin-guitar delusion of neoclassical splendour of Mark Reale and friends. This is one guitar, lots of fucking distortion, technicality takes a backseat to sheer fucking balls, a power trio with bleach-blond surfer vestigial pipes... telephone cord wrapped firmly around torso, hair adding seven inches to height listed on Frank Ferrana's driver's licence... a cocaine-fueled blitzkrieg, part New York Dolls, part Black Sabbath, enough influence from those leather-wearing gay-bar-frequenting motorcycle enthusiasts from Birmingham with their Hell Bent for Leather and their Tyrant and their stage antics and their screaming solos that never end... combine that with the cheese grater, the plastic fantastic that is Los Fucking Angeles, where neat bands out of Pittsburgh like Warrant go to die, where the streets flow with heroin and dropping dead in '87 is just another thing to add to your resume. This album has it all: a quintessential American heavy metal release, because fuck yes CHEESE is as much a part of metal as Iommi's legendary six-string sans-fingertip onslaughts. Teacher's Pet, anyone?
Okay, enough rambling, Batman, how's the actual music? Get to the damn MUSIC and quit making thinly veiled references to Judas Fucken Priest's legendary live release, that's another review for another day. The music on THIS particular LP is fun fun fun by the ton ton ton... from the opening speed metal burner "Live Wire", which is pretty much the second coming of Hell Bent for Leather, and just about as heavy and blazing as Overkill, Machine Gun, Outlaw, and Set the Stage Alight, to name a few speed metal burners of the era. Then, the rest of the album isn't nearly as fast, but still continues on, sounding like an Americanised version of Strong Arm of the Law or something. Not quite Fire Down Under in speedball intensity, but still, riffs up the ass, down the throat, coming in sideways from all angles, and so on and so forth.
Every song here is memorable in its own way... from the nasty Piece of Your Action with its long solo section and buildup riffage, to Take Me To the Top with its two distinct moods, and also Vince Neil's awesome vocals... technically, this guy is a slob on a stick, but man oh man, he's got the balls, the emotion, the makeup... OH DON'T YOU KNOW KNOW KNOOOOWWWW it's a violation!!!! Then "Too Fast for Love" is the ultimate gang chorus. Driving down the highway at 95 mph screaming out the title track at 1.30 am, ahh this is the life, Batman. THIS is the perfect combination of the socially acceptable stylings of Nightwish, and the horrendous cranial skullfuck renderment dismemberment of Overkill, why oh why must they be so ... hateful ... and do they spell their name with three Ls?? Hate this job, hate the games, hate the rules. Well, don't hate, but don't get stuck in operatic vocals either, instead listen to this album, and go on with the show, on with the show... and take me to the top!!! THIS is the soundtrack to punk kids half dead on chemical euphoria (the REAL kind, mind you), 310 dollar speeding tickets and no concept of linear time...
Focus, kid, focus. Back to the music. Starry Eyes is a cute little song with a main bludgeon riff that takes the balls to the wall attitude of Led Zep and throws in the metallic fervor of Black Sabbath, and Merry-Go-Round has that surprise Priest/Purple/etc solo section, except sufficiently filtered through the uglifier of medium talent and maximal adrenaline. On With the Show is pretty much the band's ode to themselves, including the line "Frankie died just the other night" (Nikki Sixx is Frank Ferrana, you figure it out).... everything here is good and enjoyable. And yeah, it's glam, but it's also heavy fucking metal.
I can't give this more than an 85... it wouldn't be fair to bands that Are Sexual Perverts (though guess where they got half their perversion, it was kind of a straight-to-the-top symbiosis, trading flaming boots for over-the-top screaming metal... while Lawless may have given Nikki part of his old schpiel, this is the band that begat the OTTness of Wacky Blackie and his skull-drinking chainsaw-crotching pals, Hell even Slayer got a piece of this action!). But still, you wanna rock and roll (that's right!), so long live rock and roll (fuck yeah) - this is heavy as fuck for 1981, I cannot mention this enough, this is pretty much indispensable. Forget the damn makeup, the umlauts, the fact that they'd descend into self-parody after Shout at the Devil, this is just something no metalhead should be without.