Tora Tora - Surprise Attack (A&M) 1989
1. "Love's a Bitch"
Tora Tora fall in line with what was going on in popular music in 1989 and I must confess, I like it. They play a form of bluesy hard rock not unlike Tesla with a bit of that 80's glam attitude that bands like Kix, Sleeze Beez and Slaughter had going for them. I am actually surprise that this CD wasn't much more popular since it came out at the right time, is chock full of memorable songs, has superb vocals, and major label backing. "Guilty" and especially "Walkin' Shoes" are instantly likeable. "Walkin' Shoes" has a such an infectious groove. The album features two ballads, the first of which is "Phantom Rider" which is without a doubt another standout track on this album. "Phantom Rider" is an acoustic based track building up with heavier guitars about half way thorugh the song. On minor complaint about this CD is that the guitars, while having a good sound are a bit lower in the overall mix than I would have liked. If they had been cranked up just a bit, this CD could have annihilated. Even with this minor complaint, "Surprise Attack" is a solid 80's rock album.
1. "Wild America"
Sleazy American pop metal that falls somewhere between Skid Row and Tesla, and a bit of bluesy Cinderella as well. Tora Tora hails from Memphis, TN and their country blues influence is certainly felt throughout. "Dead Man's Hand" in particular has this Southern vibe going on with the piano and horns. As with any hair metal band, "Wild America" has it's share of ballads. "Lay Your Money Down" is a solid ballad that really reminds me of the better material from Tesla. It is songs like this that prove without a doubt that there is much more to making a hit record than just good songwriting or being on a big label. Had Tesla or Def Leppard recorded this song, it would have been huge. Comparing this album to the bands first album, "Surprise Attack" was bit more polished and radio oriented than this one. On it's own, "Wild America" is a solid slab of American hard rock. The production is clear and crisp without being overpolished, the vocals are excellent and the musicianship is impeccable.