Hanoi Rocks - Oriental Beat (Victor) 1982
1. Motorvatin' (3:12)
2. Don't Follow Me (3:17)
3. Visitor (3:13)
4. Teenangels Outsiders (3:22)
5. Sweet Home Suburbia (4:44)
6. M.C. Baby (3:01)
7. No Law And Order (3:41)
8. Oriental Beat (3:09)
9. Devil Woman (2:55)
10. Lightnin' Bar Blues (2:39)
11. Fallen Star (2:33)
Back around 1979 or '80 I read a review in a magazine about Motorhead that stated they were one of the worst bands ever! I simply had to check them out and they became one of my all-time favorite bands. Similarly, I've read reviews on Hanoi Rocks "Oriental Beat" that state, "the very worst album I ever heard". In that case, this is a must hear album. After all, despite their lack of commercial success, Hanoi Rocks was one of the most influential bands of the early 80's on the Sunset Strip.
After their legendary, poorly recorded debut album, "Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks", Hanoi Rocks returned one year after with their second full-length release "Oriental Beat". The sound is still a mixture of punk rock and glam rock, only they seem to have even more feel, more groove and more attitude. Yes indeed! From the bouncy opening "Motorvatin'" to the sax solo of "Don't Follow Me" to the gutter attitude of "Sweet Home Suburbia" to the Clash influenced "No Law Or Order", "Oriental Beat" is definitely a candidate for the worst album ever! In fact, I bet the band would wear that label as a badge of honor. It's not about pristine recordings and stellar musicianship, rather it's about attitude. "Oriental Beat" is pure rock and roll attitude!
Hanoi Rocks - Self Destruction Blues (Uzi Suicide) 1982
1. Love's An Injection (3:26)
2. I Want You (3:14)
3. Cafe Avenue (3:22)
4. Nothing New (3:19)
5. Kill City Kills (4:27)
6. Self Destruction Blues (2:44)
7. Beer And A Cigarette (3:21)
8. Whispers In The Dark (3:44)
9. Taxi Driver (4:16)
10. Desperados (3:15)
11. Problem Child (2:01)
12. Dead By X-mas (2:58)
Imagine if the Rolling Stones grew up in the streets of Hollywood, California in the 80's and hitched up with David Bowie, and had bastard childen that looked and sounded like the New York Dolls. and Iggy & the Stooges. If that were to happen you would get the most screwed up, deranged rock and roll band ever. Straight out of the gutter! Hanoi Rocks are that band. Of course Hanoi Rocks were a Finnish rock band formed in 1979, but their look and style became the norm for the Hollywood strip in the 1980s, thought their sound was much more raw and punk-inspirted than most of the heavy metal and glam metal bands from that era. Hanoi Rocks was all about swagger and pomp. Hair metal owes it's existence at least partially to Hanoi Rocks. Of course some may see that as a bad thing, but regardless, Hanoi Rocks were more influential than their album sales ever let on. Take a look a the cover photo and find out where Guns n Roses, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, Ratt, etc. borrowed their look from. (Though I tend to think all these bands, including Hanoi Rocks, borrowed some of their look from Aerosmith and the New York Dolls. "Self Destruction Blues", though listed as a studio album, is a compilation of singles and B-sides that the band recorded between '81 and '82. Since none of the tracks on "Self Destruction Blues" appear on their previous albums, most fans consider it to be part of the band's studio discography, myse;f included. Certainly the collection flows like an album from the sleazy opening track through the low-key "Café Avenue", to the tough-guy in drag track "Desparado" to the ending notes of "Dead By X-mas". It's just a ball of fun.
Hanoi Rocks - Back to Mystery City (Uzi Suicide) 1983
1. Strange Boys Play Weird Openings (:42)
2. Malibu Beach Nightmare (2:46)
3. Mental Beat (5:04)
4. Tooting Bec Wreck (6:11)
5. Until I Get You (4:37)
6. Sailing Down the Tears (4:09)
7. Lick Summer Love (4:21)
8. Beating Gets Faster (3:51)
9. Ice Cream Summer (5:11)
10. Back to Mystery City (5:02)
Finland's famous glam export released their third album titled "Back to the Mystery City" in May 1983. As with past Hanoi Rocks platters, this album is steeped in inspiration from '70s glam-rock, though they also have hints of 80's pop metal and punk in their sound as well. This is not to hard to grasp considering the band was living on the streets of Hollywood, California at the time and all the band members, save for vocalist Michael Monroe, had previously played in punk bands. While the glam tag will no doubt bring thoughts of Poison and the like, Hanoi Rocks have more in common with bands like T.Rex, New York Dolls, Sweet and even early Alice Cooper. Though their look was stolen by just about every LA glam metal band in the mid-80's, their sound certainly isn't of the same ilk.
The opening track is pure fun. I mean, what else can you say about a track titled "Strange Boys Play Weird Openings," that is an acoustic folk song complete a babbling brook, happy birds chirping and a flute. The obnoxious gutter rock then kicks in with "Malibu Beach Nightmare". This song, and the entire album, is driven by pure attitude. You can almost feel the drug-riddled, sex-crazed, starving-artist-hungry-for-success vibe that must have been driving the band at this point. I mean c'mon, what else would fuel a song titled "Lick Summer Love"? The band has never been afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves either. The title track is an obvious take-off of "Mony Mony". "Until I Get You" is probably the most commercial song on the album and could have been released as a single, if it wasn't.
I must confess that "Back to the Mystery City" was my first exposure to Hanoi Rocks back in the 80's. At the time I was expecting something different than the band was delivering. They were hailed as the pioneers of L.A. glam metal and that's what I was expecting. As such, they didn't strike a chord with me at first. It wasn't until years later that I re-discovered this band and really began to enjoy their music for what it is, rather than what I was told it was. I often wonder if this was the band's big downfall and the reason they didn't get as big as some people thought they could. They just weren't what people were expecting at the time.
"Back to Mystery City" was the first album to feature drummer Razzle. It was Hanoi Rocks' last album before signed a major label deal with Columbia Records.
Hanoi Rocks - Two Steps From The Move (Columbia) 1984
1. Up Around the Bend (3:10)
2. High School (3:54)
3. I Can't Get It (4:15)
4. Underwater World (5:20)
5. Don't You Ever Leave Me (4:06)
6. Million Miles Away (4:50)
7. Boulevard of Broken Dreams (4:06)
8. Boiler (4:25)
9. Futurama (3:10)
10. Cutting Corners (4:19)
After years of toiling around in the underground, finally in 1984 the rock and roll train caught up to Hanoi Rocks and the steel wheels of big label commerce gave the band their big chance. "Two Steps From The Move" was the band's first worldwide release. The album was produced by well known rock and roll producer Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Alice Cooper), who cracked the whip on the band and helped them refine their songwriting.
The album kicks off with a revved up cover of CCR's "Up Around the Bend". While it's an excellent cover, I think it's weird to start the album off with a cover song. The rest of the disc is is a raw, campy, rock 'n' roll affair. Mike Monroe's snotty, punk-infused vocals remind me of classic New York Dolls or even Iggy & the Stooges. "High School" is an anthemic song with a bit of a punk edge, as does "Boiler" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". "Don't You Ever Leave Me" is a dark, moody ballad that segues into another dark, moody track titled "Million Miles Away", which happens to be one of the coolest songs on the disc. The entire disc is solid from the opening cover to the last rocker, "Cutting Corners". Unfortunately "Two Steps From The Move" would be Hanoi Rocks last studio album as during the tour to support the disc, while in America, drummer Razzle was killed while a passenger in Vince Neil's (Motley Crue) car.
Hanoi Rocks may not have been a hugely popular band, but I have to think that their look and sound was a big inspiration to LA bands like Faster Pussycat and Guns n Roses.
Hanoi Rocks - Twelve Shots on the Rocks (Liquor & Poker Music) 2002
1. Intro (:28)
2. Obscured (4:10)
3. Bad News (3:48)
4. New York City (3:52)
5. Delirious (3:14)
6. A Day Late A Dollar Short
7. In My Darkest Moment
8. People Like Me
9. Whatcha Want
10. Moonlight Dance
11. Gypsy Boots
13. Watch This
14. Designs On You
15. L.A.C.U. (:18)
16. Are You Lonely Tonight (3:09)
17. Winged Bull (4:28)
In February 2001, Hanoi Rocks singer Michael Monroe and guitarist Andy McCoy performed together for the first time since 1985. They performed three Hanoi Rocks songs: "Malibu Beach Nightmare", "Tragedy" and "Up Around the Bend. Following that performance, Monroe and McCoy toured together through the summer of 2001 under the moniker "Hanoi Revisited". This led to a full fledged Hanoi Rocks rebirth, though Monroe and McCoy are the only two original members in the band. This new Hanoi Rocks was a partnership with both members taking equal duty in writing the songs, as opposed to McCoy writing all the material. As such, "Twelve Shots on the Rocks" is only slightly different from classic 80's Hanoi Rocks. It' s a revamped Hanoi Rocks, though still blissfully ignorant of the times and still bare bones rock 'n' roll. They still retain that trashy, gutter appeal and have that punk influence, but it's slightly more refined, more serious and perhaps less hedonistic and decadent. Maturity perhaps? Nah!
The album starts off with a short intro complete with animal noises and chimes before bursting into an energetic hard rock song. I've read reviews that state that post-reunion Hanoi Rocks sounds modern, but what I hear sounds exactly like what I have come to know from this band. "Obscured" is an upbeat hard rocker with a nasty punk vibe. A few songs , such as "Delirious", "Watch This" and "New York City" have a definite Alice Cooper vibe, especially with Monroe's vocals. In fact, I quickly scanned through the booklet upon my first time hearing "New York City" to see if Cooper might have been brought in as a guest vocalist. "In My Darkest Moment" and "Designs On You" are the album's ballads. "Darkest Hour" is a song that is perfectly titled as the song is quite dark. "Designs on You" is a country-style ballad with a big nod to the Stones. "L.A.C.U." is a short drums solo that acts as an intro to "Are You Lonely Tonight", which is pure 70's rock and roll. In fact "Are You Lonely Tonight" would have been the perfect song for a Monroe sax solo. The album ends with a song titled "Winged Bull" that is about as epic and majestic as Hanoi Rocks will ever get. You can almost feel the pain and emotion that the song is evoking. (It should be noted that there is about 8 minutes of silence at the end of track 17 and a 36 second song titled "Up In Smoke" hidden at the end.
The album was originally released in 2002 and was their first real studio albums since the band's break-up in 1985. Apparently the band were unhappy with the mix, despite it's success in their native Finland. The album was remixed in 2003 and released with a slew of bonus tracks.
Hanoi Rocks - Another Hostile Takeover (Demolition) 2005
1. Intro (:06)
2. Back in Yer Face (3:35)
3. Insert I (:15)
4. Hurt (3:54)
5. The Devil in You (3:34)
6. Love (2:34)
7. Talk to the Hand (3:39)
8. Eternal Optimist (3:31)
9. Insert II (:06)
10. No Compromise, No Regrets (4:01)
11. Reggae Rocker (4:19)
12. You Can Make the Earth Move (3:34)
13. Insert III (:10)
14. Better High (3:21)
15. Dear Miss Lonely Hearts (3:28)
16. Insert IV (:13)
17. Center of My Universe (4:52)
18. Heaven Is Gonna Be Empty (2:46)
Reunion record number two for Monroe and McCoy and the band's sixth studio album overall. "Twelve Shots On The Rocks" was a punk-influenced rock album that was a throw-back to the band’s classic era, the post-Razzle, pre-"Two Steps from the Move" period. "Another Hostile Takeover" is different beast entirely, having more in common with Mike Monroe’s solo. The album has less punk influences but has more hooks, more swagger and more to enjoy, in my opinion. There are, as always, the experiments with sound, such as "Reggae Rocker" which mixes in funk and money noises. However, other tracks like "Back In Yer Face", "Hurt" and "Eternal Optimist" are energetic rockers with that glam overtone that Hanoi Rocks helped to revive in the early 80's. "You Make the Earth Move" sounds like it could have been an Alice Cooper track, and even Monroe's vocals have a bit of that Alice vibe. "Love", on the other hand, is New York Dolls oriented and inspired.
"No Compromise, No Regrets" is the obligatory ballad on the album. The song is inspired by deceased singer Stiv Bators (The Dead Boys, Lords of the New Church) and the last song Monroe penned with his late wife and writing partner June Wilder. This is a stupendous ballad. Truly a heart-feld rock ballad, wonder tasteful arranged with some beautiful piano, crunchy guitars and the lryics becoming the center-point of the song. Monroe sings, "When everything in life seems like you’re slowly going nowhere, make no compromise, have no regrets." Not that I look to Hanoi Rocks for insightful lyrics, after all they are more about having fun, but these are some thoughtful lyrics.
If ever a lesson was needed of how to write a truly heart-rending rock ballad was needed, this is the one: a wonderfully tasteful arrangement takes in unobtrusive strings and synthesisers, allowing the beauty of the melody and the lyrics to take centre stage. Monroe sings, ”When everything in life seems like you’re slowly going nowhere, make no compromise, have no regrets."
Another standout cut is the cover of Philip Lynott's "‘Dear Miss Lonely Hearts", from his 1983 "Solo In Soho". It's a fantastic song to begin with but the band pays tribute to the late rocker by adding in their own sleazy swagger to on of Lynott's lesser-known hits.
"Another Hostile Takeover" is another fine rock and roll record packed full of that Hanoi Rocks swagger. Never one to sit on their laurels, Hanoi Rocks takes it up one step from "Twelve Shots On The Rocks".
Hanoi Rocks - Street Poetry (Demolition) 2007
1. Hypermobile (4:08)
2. Street Poetry (3:59)
3. Fashion (3:19)
4. Highwired (3:30)
5. Power of Persuasion (4:18)
6. Teenage Revolution (3:39)
7. Worth Your Weight in Gold (3:36)
8. Transcendental Groove (3:06)
9. This One’s for Rock ’n' Roll (3:47)
10. Powertrip (2:41)
11. Walkin’ Away (3:58)
12. Tootin’ Star (2:43)
13. Fumblefoot and Busy Bee [instrumental] (2:07)
14. Trouble Boys (2:48)
Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy's new and revitalized version of Hanoi Rocks return in 2007 with a brand new collection of songs. Along for the ride are Electric Boys alumni Conny Bloom (guitars) and Andy "A.C." Christell (bass). As with their last two albums, the band brings forth their own brand of glam, punk and rock and roll. It still tough, rough and raw like Hanoi Rocks have always been, though leaning more towards the rock and roll side of things, as opposed to punk. Still, the band's gutter glam style is still very evident in standout songs like "Hypermobile", "Highwired", "Teenage Revolution", "Trouble Boys" and rock and roll anthem "This One's For Rock and Roll". Sadly most people will associate a band like Poison with the glam tag, but Hanoi Rocks have more in common with 70's glam rock than anything from the 80's. One thing is true about Hanoi Rocks, they don't give into trends, they create their own. Many have followed, some with more commercial success, but few with the same defiant determination and couldn't-care-less attitude. Monroe and McCoy are the real deal.