N I T R
I saw the video for "Freight Train" on a cable access show in 1989 and, of course, I had to run out an find their album. Why? Because they made me laugh my butt off! These guys were hilarious. In the height of hair madness, Nitro, who were actually serious about their look, put Spinal Tap to shame in the cliche department. Vocalist Jim Gillette's bleach blonde doo was higher and bigger than all the Poison guys put together, his high pitched, helium ingested vocals would put Warrel Dane to shame and his outfit had more rhinestones than the most elaborate evening gown. Then there was Michael Angelo's speedy guitar leads which would have sent Yngwie Malmsteen and Impelliteri running for the hills. On the drums, the one and only macho-man himself, Rob Rock. And finally on the bass, a man whose hair touches the sky, T.J. Racer. HA! HA! Nitro are just too much fun! They had catchy songs to boot! Out F'n Ragious!
Gone are the O.F.R. cloths, hair and look of Nitro's past. What remains is the "been sucking on helium" high vocals of Jim Gillette and the outrageous guitar playing of Michael Angelo. Songs like "H.W.D.W.S," a 95 mph rocker and "Johnny Died" a full on glam rocker would have fit well on the last Nitro record, so the attitude hasn't changed any. Nitro also do a very cool version of Ted Nugent's top ten hit "Cat Scratch Fever," complete with some lightning quick double bass and speedy guitar solos. "Hey Mike" is a shred solo, proving that Michael Angelo could compete with the best known guitarists. The entire thing reminds me a bit of an exaggerated Vinnie Vincent Invasion.
Nitro - Gunnin' for Glory (independent) 1998
1. "Freight Train"
Gunnin' for Glory is a collection of Nitro demos released independently by Michael Angelo in 1998. (or was it '99?) Being a huge fan of this band since first hearing "O.F.R" in 1989, I was anxious to get a copy. However, it took many years before I finally secured a copy. Hearing this band fresh in 2007, I still enjoy their over-the-top, glam-influenced heavy metal. The pre-O.F.R. material here is slightly different than the versions that ended up on the debut. However, they seem a bit more raw, which I actually enjoy. Gillette's outrageously high, falsetto voice is Nitro's signature, along with Michael's guitar pyrotechnics. It is this combination that I find so appealing. There are a few tracks that didn't make it onto the band's debut including "Prisoner of Paradise" a heavy rocker, "Heaven's Just A Heartbeat Away", a melodic power ballad, and the title track which easily could have been on "O.F.R". This song is complete with those layered vocal harmonies in the chorus and Gillette's signature wail. Tracks 5-7 are listed as being recorded by The Michael Angelo Band. These songs feature a different vocalist, who isn't quite as over the top as Gillette's over the top, helium-ingested style. However, these tracks are also quite good and fit in with the overall sound of Nitro. Had Gillette sang on these tracks, they could have easily have been Nitro songs. All three songs are prime 1980's heavy metal with sing-along choruses and smokin' guitar leads. "Drivin' Me Crazy" is actually a very good song and could have been a hit song in the 80's had the band had the right marketing and radio push. The chorus is very catchy. I could imagine Skid Row having recorded this song on their debut. It has that same infectious edge as "Youth Gone Wild". Overall, a good listen and highly recommended for fans of Nitro. It's probably the closest thing you will ever get to a third Nitro album.