Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Record Collection Random Choice (RCRC) - H: Hanoi Rocks - Oriental Beat

After Nokia, Finlandia Vodka and a plethora of Heavy Metal/Black Metal/Death MetalDoom Metal, the next biggest export from Finalnd is probably the precursors of US Glam Metal, Hanoi Rocks (maybe more by reputation than actual sales).

Formed in 1980, and touring any Finnish club they could find, the band struck lucky when one of the punters turned out to be the one of the foremost Finnish promoters who had brought some big names to tour and play Festivals in Finland.
With Management support, the band re-located to Sweden (probably having exhuasted every bar and hall in Finland), and in another stroke of luck got themselves a record deal with a Swedish label.  This soon led to the release of their first single, swiftly followed by a lengthy tour of Sweden and Finland.
Their first album soon followed, doing well in Finalnd and Sweden, but making very little impression outside Scandanavia.
With the tour complete, the band re-located again.  This time to London, and according to some contemporary reports "took The Marquee by storm" *
* possibly journalistic hyperbole, as they were still pretty much unknown outside Scandanavia, and would probably have trouble getting arrested
Whilst in London they set about recording their second album 'Oriental Beat', which would again go to the top of the Finnish chart, but more importantly provided a taste of international recognition.

The Pop landscape of 1982 was a mix of the manufactured, Eurovision, burgeoning synth music and middle of the road pop.
The Rock landscape was emerging from the end of NWOBHM and began looking to America (or America began looking into the UK) for the next assault on the pages of Kerrang.
Quite where Hanoi Rocks sat in the UK wasn't clear, but they'd obviously found some niche, and no little support from the Music papers who followed them on tour and briefly touted them as "the next big thing".
Further albums, a relocation to the US, a big deal with CBS, virtually ensured success in Japan and Asia, amounted to little and they never did achieve the success that was suggested for them.
Success may not have come for them first time round, but reputation ensured that they sold (at least) twice as many records after their demise than in their pomp.

'Oriental Beat' is hailed by "those who know" (or do they?) as Hanoi Rocks best album.
Well, it's pretty good (in a raggedy-arse way), and is a step up from their debut.
(the only other Hanoi Rocks product I have to compare to is 'Up Around the Bend: The Definitive Collection', and I'll be honest that is probably the best)

Don't go looking for meaning or depth, this is 11 songs of bar-room rock n roll about having a good time and living life to it's hedonistic limit.
The music is competent, if simplistic, and delivered with confidence and swagger.  Vocally, it doe sound very much like Billy Idol fronting The New York Dolls (right down to the phrasing of the word "baby" (a direct echo of David Johansson) on "MC Baby")).
There is a nice sax break on "Don't Follow Me" which sits well with the song, and is almost (but not really) up there with Clarence Clemons break on "Born To Run".  But the sax break trick never really works when they try again on other songs, and can get a bit wearing like it's levered in there.
They even extend their musical chops a bit with the track "No Law Or Order" being built over a regaae skank riff.

There are no really "turn that sh*t off!" tracks on here, but by the same token they are no "classics in waiting" either.
And hopefully I'm not doing the album a dis-service (because it is actually eminently listenable), but I think the best of the 11 is a cover version of US Folk Singer Hoyt Axton's "Lightning Bar Blues"

And OK, it's not on the album (it came a couple of years later) but everyone likes a cover version don't they.
Here's ver Roxx doing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Up Around The Bend"

1 comment:

  1. Not a band I'm familiar with beyond the name, but I wouldn't turn either of those off if they came on the radio (not that they would).