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Some bands of the 80s seemed to like the idea of not being taken seriously and writing outlandishly ridiculous songs that bring buffoonery to a new level. Outfits such as Faster Pussycat, The Bullet Boys, Trickster, and a host of other bands come to mind. Pink Cream 69, at first glance, seems to be cut from that grain, but when the music starts playing and the lyrics are understood, quite the opposite turns out to be the case. This album actually succeeds in taking itself more seriously than some of the albums put out by former front man of this band Andi Deris while in Helloween.
“Thunderdome” is a mixture of a whole lot of influences, most of them coming out of the late 70s and early 80s. There are plenty of fancy riffs superimposed over a mostly mid to upper mid-tempo rhythm section, hinting at a combination of Van Halen and Rhandy Rhodes era Ozzy Osbourne influences. Alfred Koffler’s lead style reminds me a lot of Chris DeGarmo of Queensryche, with some hints of Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, and Alex Lifeson thrown in as well. Vocalist David Readman has one of the most powerful tenor voices I’ve heard in the metal genre, which I was already familiar with from his brief stint with Adagio. There is a strong similarity between his voice and that of former Rainbow and current Malmsteen vocalist Doogie White, almost to the point of them seeming to be of blood relation.
Although confined to a rather limited instrumentation compared to most metal acts today, Pink Cream 69 makes up for it here with a healthy amount of stylistic variation from track to track. The title track screams mid to late 80s Queensryche, as does “As deep as I am”, while heavier rocker “Retro-Lullaby” has a main riff right out of Sabbath’s playbook. “Here I am” begins sounding like something that Alice in Chains might have dreamed up before launching into a more 80s metal feel. The woeful sounding ballad “That was yesterday” has some Edguy tendencies, although the fluffy sounding chorus would fit in more with late 70s Prog rockers like Styx.
My favorite moment of this album is a bit unusual as I tend not to get overly excited about a cover song, but occasionally an exception comes up. I can say wholly and honestly that I despise The Knack’s “My Sharona”, one of the most annoying songs in the world. Not so much because of the music itself, but because their singer’s voice just grated on my ears. Somewhere between the heavier guitars, the louder and more aggressive approach, and David Readman’s superior voice this remake just works amazingly. Koffler’s guitar sound on here is excellent, especially during the 2nd guitar solo, and his guitar’s tone really gives the main riff the bottom end it needs to keep this song from being mere hard rock.
If you’re a fan of 80s metal/rock outfits such as Motley Crue, Skid Row, Queensryche or Judas Priest then this album comes recommended. This isn’t the newest or most original thing I’ve ever heard, but quality is a fine substitute for originality, particularly today when many bands seek to be original rather than good. It may take a little effort to get past the band’s goofy name and the rather cartoon-like album art, but this is a band that is fully capable of being taken seriously.