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Tygers of Pan Tang started out borderline-metal with a lot of poppy choruses and rock riffs, and they just slid further and further down that pipeline as their career regressed…well, this is their third album, released the same year as the awesome Spellbound, and I have to say, I think it’s made up of the B-sides to that album. Because it’s just not that good.
This is basically a Scorpions album, except with less good songwriting. I mean, I guess this stuff isn’t bad or anything. It’s got bouncy, hook-filled riffs, syrupy vocals and lyrics about partying and relationships. That’s about all the musical description you need, as this is really the most basic metal gets without just…vanishing into thin air altogether. But it’s really not great, either. Crazy Nights’ problem comes down to the fact that most of the songs just don’t hit that hard, and won’t be that memorable after the album ends.
The songs just go through the motions of 80s rockametal and are pretty good while they’re on, but none of them really make me want to come back and listen again. The closest this album comes is “Love Don’t Stay,” which is shamelessly catchy, and “Never Satisfied” and “Crazy Nights,” which sound sort of like really old Iron Maiden tracks, when Paul Dianno still sang for them. They’re not as good as that, but the feel is there, and they’re enjoyable enough. On the other hand, opener “Do It Good” is downright soggy with its wimpy vocal lines and “Lonely Man” and “Make a Stand” drag the album right into the dirt, feeling twice as long as they really are without any big hook to pull me in.
I think my biggest hang up here is the vocals. Jon Deverill is talented, but he’s best used singing epic, drawn out vocals like on “Mirror” or “Hellbound” off the last album. Here he pretty much just sticks to sub-par Klaus Meine renditions, without near the amount of charm or finesse. It’s just not as entertaining and I feel like he could have done way better. Disappointing.
So, yeah, Crazy Nights is pretty damn tame. There are good moments here, but a lot of the album wallows in stale 80s cheese that just doesn’t rock my boat that hard. A lot of the songs just aren’t that entertaining, and the vocal melodies aren’t as good as the previous album. Deficient songwriting with moments of promise but very little in the way of actual quality. You can do better than this.
While Tygers Of Pan Tang generally tend to receive praise for their first two albums, “Crazy Nights” is not mentioned as much. Why this is the case escapes me, as it is a solid slab of crunchy, riff driven NWOBHM that differs primarily in that it’s a little bit slower and gets more into the relationship side of the lyrical paradigm. Singing about women and interpersonal relationships isn’t necessarily out of bounds for this era, although there does also seem to be a slightly more bluesy character to the riffs. It doesn’t quite get as overtly AC/DC like the way Def Leppard’s “High N’ Dry” did, but there is a small but noticeable divergence going on here.
Things largely follow a basic format, with riffs that are fairly similar to some of the more rocking songs on Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell” such as “Lady Evil” and “Walk Away”, with a guitar sound that actually isn’t too far removed from the crunchy, punchy tone of said album. Jon Deverill’s smoother, slightly crooning voice is about as present as it is on the later, more mainstream sounding “The Cage”, but doesn’t really detract from the razor edged goodness on display here. Even the slow grooving, 4 chord banging opener “Do It Good” is just a little too heavy for a party song, even though the lyrics have that aura and Deverill’s vocals sound about as hard rock as Robert Plant.
As things progress, a duality of Deep Purple styled riffing (mostly of the earlier 70s era) and large sounding chorus sections is basically the norm. The happy-go-lucky “Love Don’t Stay” is almost fit for rock radio, save that really hard edged principle riff that’s about as heavy as what Accept was putting out at the time. “Running Out Of Time” speeds things up and goes in more of a Riot direction, pretty similar to that of “Narita” actually, but perhaps a tiny bit simpler. And the fun as hell “Raised On Rock” has a nice busy, bluesy groove to it that is somewhat reminiscent of Boston’s “Smokin’”, but without the rock organ and at a faster tempo. There’s also some good bonus material on here, including the galloping wonder “Slip Away”, which sounds like a throwback to “Spellbound” and probably would have made what was already a great album even better had it been on there.
At the end of the day, this is something that is still rock solid and shouldn’t be passed up despite being a little bit more rocking than the previous two. But it’s definitely far removed stylistically from the overt AOR and big hair 80s tendencies of “The Cage”, let alone the keyboard steeped arena party rock that came after. “Spellbound” should be at the top of the list for anyone looking to experience good NWOBHM, but this isn’t too far behind.