Tygers

Tygers of Pan Tang
Hailing from the tiny town of Whitley Bay in North-East England, the Tygers of Pan Tang (whose name originated from the Michael Moorcock novel Stormbringer) formed when aspiring vocalist Jess Cox met guitarist Robb Weir at the local pub in November 1978.

Spellbound Tygers of Pan Tang - Spellbound (Edgy) 1981

1. Gangland (3:40)
2. Take It (4:26)
3. Minotaur (:22)
4. Hellbound (3:30)
5. Mirror (4:34)
6. Silver And Gold (3:37)
7. Tyger Bay (3:29)
8. Story So Far (3:30)
9. Blackjack (3:16)
10. Don't Stop By (4:07)
BONUS TRACKS
11. All Or Nothing (2:44)
12. Don't Give A Damn (4:32)
13. Bad Times (2:41)
14. It Ain't Easy (4:03)
15. Don't Take Nothing (2:46)

I have been a fan of heavy metal since the 70's. Was a big fan of the NWOBHM movement, especially bands like Raven, Maiden, Blitzkrieg , Diamond Head, etc. Somehow, it wasn't until many years later that I discovered the Tygers of Pan Tang, and that was only because I was a huge Thin Lizzy fan and found out that Tygers was Sykes' pre-Lizzy band. Somehow I missed out because most fans of the early 80's British metal movement list this among the classics of those metal pioneers. I tend to agree. The songs are catchy, heavy, and sport some smokin' guitar work. "Spellbound" is most notable for including a young Sykes on guitar, who went on to fame with Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, and Blue Murder. "Spellbound" was also the bands last real heavy platter as the Tygers would follow in the footsteps of many other NWOBHM bands and move towards a more mainstream, pop sound. Unlike bands like Def Leppard, however, the Tygers didn't gain a mainstream popularity and because of the style change lost some of their core fans as well. The bonus tracks are taken from various singles from 1981, including the "Hellbound" & "Story So Far" 7" singles.

"Hellbound" was covered by Heathen.

 Wreck-Age Tygers Of Pan Tang - The Wreck-Age (Edgy) 1985

1.    Waiting (5:28)
2.    Protection (3:06)
3.    Innocent Eyes (3:02)
4.    Desert of No Love (4:07)
5.    The Wreck-Age (3:27)
6.    Women in Cages (3:04)
7.    Victim (3:41)
8.    Ready to Run (4:53)
9.    All Change Faces (2:55)
10.  Forgive and Forget (5:53)

By 1985 the NWOBHM scene had become very fragmented. A line had been drawn in the sand between "real" metal bands and those searching the more commercial "pop" direction, and thus being labeled "false metal". Def Leppard had found huge success going in a more radio friendly pop direction and had great success in America. This was the direction that Tygers of Pan Tang went as well.

"The Wreck-Age" is a highly polished hard rock album with a lot of obvious attempts at radio pop. The guitars are mixed back to make room for a new, glossy, keyboard heavy sound. This album sounds more like something from April Wine or Loverboy than it does a band from the NWOBHM scene. Several songs on this album probably could have been radio hits. The fact that "Innocent Eyes", with it’s big chorus and catchy melody, didn’t become a hit single just goes to show that sometimes it takes more than good songs and a record label to generate a hit. Likewise "Desert of No Love" and "Waiting" could have been hits in the Summer of ‘85. Jon Deverill’s vocals are perfectly suited for this style of hard rock as well. Of course Deverill and drummer Brian Dick were the only members left from previous incarnations of Tygers, which could also account for why the band lost some momentum. "All Change Faces" is really the only song that recalls the band’s past. This song is an upbeat, straight forward heavy metal song.

Tygers took a big gamble moving away from the raw heavy metal sounds of their first two albums into a more pop friendly direction. Whatever street credibility the band had with their core, metal fanbase was quickly put to rest by the keyboard saturated, radio-friendly Wreck-Age. Unfortunately, the expected new fanbase just never latched on this band like they did for Def Leppard. Frankly I find The Wreck-Age to be a decent pop album, but it’s a far cry from the far better classic metal of "Spellbound" and "Wild Cat".

Burning in the Shade Tygers of Pan Tang - Burning in the Shade (Lemon) 1987

1. The First (The Only One) (3:33)
2. Hit It (3:23)
3. Dream Ticket (3:54)
4. Sweet Lies (3:45)
5. Maria (4:00)
6. Hdeaway (3:46)
7. Open to Seduction (3:25)
8. The Circle of the Dance (3:49)
9. Are Yu There? (2:47)
10. The Memory Fades (4:52)
BONUS TRACK
11. Waiting [video]

Wow! Had someone played this record for me and I didn't know better, I never would have guessed it was the Tygers of Pan Tang. This sounds more like what I would expect from Air Supply, not a band known for their part in the NWOBHM movement of the early 80's. OK, maybe it's not quite that lightweight, but it's darned close. Foreigner and Night Ranger are heavier than anything on this CD. "Burning in the Shade" is melodic, slightly progressive, pop rock straight out of the 80's. Guitars are barely audible and keyboards are brought to the front. Jon Deverill does have a great voice. His vocals are layered and well done, for pop music. Seriously, I can't even really call most of this hard rock, no less NWOBHM. "Hit It" is the band's one attempt at hard rock, but even this keyboard drenched, upbeat rocker sounds more like Loverboy than anything from the Tygers past. (No, that is not an exaggeration.) "Dream Ticket" sounds a bit like Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You". "Burning in the Shade" is a far cry from the band's early classics. Much of the original line-up is gone, which may account for the change in sound. This album features the line-up of Jon Deverill (vocals), Steve Lamb (guitar), Brian Dick (drums) with guests Steve Thompson and Phil Caffrey. From what I have read, Steve Thompson, who was never even an official member of the band, was responsible for much of the songwriting on this album.

The CD includes a bonus music video for the song "Waiting" from their 1985 album The Wreck Age. It is actually the best part of this otherwise lightweight CD. The insert folds out to a 9.5" square poster of the album cover, which is actually pretty cool. The insert also features a short biography.

Please Don't Leave Me John Sykes - Please Don't Leave Me (MVP Japan) 1992

1. "Please Don't Leave Me" [original version] (4:51)
2. "Don't Take Nothing" (2:52)
3. "Bad Times" (3:07)
4. "All or Nothing" (2:44)
5. "Don't Give a Damn" (4:31)
6. "Please Don't Leave Me" [short version] (4:19)
7. "Slave to Freedom" [live] (5:02)
8. "Raised on Rock" [live] (4:44)
9. "Paradise Drive " (3:45)
10. "Love Potion No. 9" (2:08)
11. "Please Don't Leave Me" [instrumental version] (3:57)

A collection of singles that John Sykes had his hand in. This particular compilation was released in Japan only. The title track, which is repeated three times on this disc, is a Phil Lynott/John Sykes penned track that was apparently recorded as a single for Thin Lizzy. The rest of the tracks are all pre-Lizzy tracks that John recorded with the Tygers of Pan Tang. Pretty cool to hear some of those old NWOBHM classics again. Of course my favorite track is the 'original version' of "Please Don't Leave Me". Still, a good listen all the way through. May have to add some Tygers of Pan Tang to my want list. "Love Potion No. 9" is a cover of an old 50's or 60's hit, but for the life of me I can't remember who wrote it.

Big Game Hunting Tygers of Pan Tang - Big Game Hunting -The Rarities (Castle Music) 2005

DISC ONE
1. Don't Touch Me There (2:26)
2. Slave To Freedom (6:00)
3. Euthanasia (3:34)
4. Bad Times (3:06)
5. Straight As A Die (3:11)
6. Alright On The Night (3:20)
7. Don't Take Nothing (3:01)
8. Spellbound (3:35)
9. Take It (4:33)
10. Story So Far (3:02)
11. Don't Give A Damn [live] (4:27)
12. Gangland [live] (4:03)
13. Rock 'n' Roll Man [live] (2:48)
14. Blackjack [live] (2:59)
15. Tyger Bay [live] (3:25)
16. Insanity [live] (5:29)
DISC TWO
1. Wild Katz [live] (3:20)
2. Don't Stop By [live] (3:47)
3. Silver And Gold [live] (3:18)
4. Waiting (5:28)
5. Protection
6. Wreck Age (3:28)
7. Victim (3:41)
8. Ready To Run (4:54)
9. Forgive And Forget (5:53)
10. Rock 'n' Roll Man [live] (2:48)
11. Money [live] (3:46)
12. Suzy Smiled [live] (5:46)
13. Fireclown [live] (3:18)
14. Burning Up [live] (3:18)
15. Tush [live] (2:17)
16. Love Potion No.9 [live] (4:17)

A disc for the Tygers of Pan Tang completist or anyone looking to dig deeper into the NWOBHM vaults. Disc one of this two disc set is simply outstanding, as it is Tygers of Pan Tang at their absolute best. This is British heavy metal! The majority of the disc is made up of demos from 1979 though 1980, all of which sound as good, and better than some officially released records from that same era. Of course track 1 is the first official single that was released on Neat Records in 1980. That single did incredibly well for the band and in fact gained them some major label attention. The "First Kill" tracks feature vocalist Jess Cox, who would be replaced by Jon Deverill for the remainder of the tracks.  The Spellbound demos recorded in Newcastle, England in 1981 feature John Sykes on guitar. (Of course John went on to fame with Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake). The sound quality of these demos is outstanding. As a matter of fact, without comparing them side by side with the album tracks, I didn't really notice any major differences between the two. Disc one wraps up with some super-charged live tracks recording at Nottingham's Rock City (1981), again with Sykes on guitar.

Disc 2 continues with the Nottingham show. With tracks 4 - 9, the band shows how far they moved from their original sound. These songs are taken from the very commercial "Wreck-Age" album. (see review above). For this album drummer Brian Dick is the only original member, along with long-time vocalist Jon Deverill. Obviously the band were attempting to gain some of the same commercial success as bands like Def Leppard at the time. Frankly, I prefer the more raw rock and roll approach of the other material presented here. As well, the band never really saw success with this material as their core heavy metal fanbase were turned off and the anticipated new audience never materialized. The collection closes with tracks recorded from the Wacken Festival in Germany (1999) and features vocalist Jess Cox and original guitarist Rob Weir back in the band. "Tush" is, of course, a cover of the ZZ Top classic while "Love Potion #9 is a song originally written in 1959 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller performed by the Clovers.

The package contains a 12-page booklet with liner notes by Jess Cox and Malcom Dome as well as plenty of photos.

DISC ONE
Track 1 (Taken from a rare 7" single)
Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. (Taken from First Kill Demo, 1979)
Tracks 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.(Taken from Spellbound demo, 1980)
Tracks 13, 14 , 15, 16. (Were recorded live at Nottingham Rock City, 1980)

DISC TWO
Tracks 1-3.(Recorded live at Nottingham Rock City, 1980)
Tracks 4-9 (Taken from the The Wreck-Age album, 1985)
Tracks 10-16.(Recorded live at Wacken, 1999)

Mystical Tygers of Pan Tang - Mystical (Z Records) 2001

1.      Detonator (5:52)
2.      Firepower (4:34)
3.      Keep The Rock Alive (3:41)
4.      Secret (3:45)
5.      Mystical (4:50)
6.      Roar (4:22)
7.      Street Fighter (3:40)
8.      Jump In Your Shoes (4:50)
9.      Ride 4 Free (4:32)
10.     Greed (4:36)
11.     Sun Lotion Suicide (4:40)

1999 saw the short lived reunion of founding Tygers of Pan Tang members Jess Cox and Robb Weir and yielded a single live album. "Mystical" is the first studio album from Robb Weir and Tygers of Pan Tang and features new vocalist Tony Liddell as well as guitarist Dean Robertson, bassist Brian West and drummer Craig Ellis.

Musically the band mostly sticks with a classic sound that sits comfortably in the early 1980's. Some may see this as a bad thing, but most Tygers of Pan Tang fans aren't looking for them to re-invent the wheel. They just want to hear classic hard rock and heavy metal and don't care to hear the band delve into bad pop rock or attempts at modern rock trends. However, if I were to compare the disc overall to their classic catalog, I'd say "Mystical" sits closer to the material on "The Cage" or "Crazy Nights" than on "Wild Cat" or "Spellbound"..

The CD starts off with a melodic, hooky number titled "Detonator". Track two is an explosive heavy metal track and, in my opinion, would have been an awesome lead off track. The song features a smokin' lead as well. This is the type of song that attracted me to those early Tygers albums like "Wild Cat" and "Spellbound". This song is followed-up by an attempt at a rock 'n' roll anthem titled "Keep The Rock Alive" that comes off as rather cheesy. The guitar riff that opens the song is cool, but when Liddell starts singing in the first verse of the song, it's almost like he's rapping which sounds odd and out of place. However, this song is followed-up by "Secret", a kickin' song with some screaming vocals from Liddell. "Ride 4 Free" is another of those songs that really recalls the glory days of the NWOBHM sound. It's an upbeat rocker with a sing-along chorus and nice riff. Really, the entire CD is pretty solid with the possible exception of "Keep The Rock Alive". The production is rich and heavy and transitions the 80's NWOBHM vibe into more modern production practices. In a nutshell, "Mystical" is a good listen though I don't think anything the band could produce at this point will ever touch the magic of "Spellbound". . If fans of the band's classic albums can see fit to give this album a chance I think they will have yet another to add to their arsenal. (thanks Vexor6)

Cathouse Tygers Of Pan Tang - Noises From The Cathouse (Communique) 2003 new

1.      Boomerang (6:02)
2.      Godspeak (5:56)
3.      Master of Illusion (9:14)
4.      Highspeed Highway Superman (6:03)
5.      The Spirit Never Dies (7:16)
6.      Cybernation (6:52)
7.      Deja Vu (6:38)
8.      Bad Bad Kitty (4:22)
9.      Running Man (4:15)
10.     Three In A Bed (6:04)

The cleverly titled "Noises From the Cathouse" is the second studio album from Tygers of Pan Tang since Robb Weir resurrected the name in 2000. The first reunion album "Mystical" was a solid, enjoyable album that fit neatly into the band's catalog. With "Noises From the Cathouse" the band have yet another new vocalist, Richie Wicks.

The album opens strong with a song titled "Boomerang". The first minute of the song gives the allusion that this will be a fairly heavy, straight-forward metal album. However, once the first verse hits, the momentum of the song completely stops as the heavy guitar riff ends and a mellow, clean guitar and jazzy drum beat allows that vocals to be the focus of the song. Unfortunately I found Wicks vocal performance to be underwhelming and a bit mundane. The very next song follows the same formula. "Godspeak" starts off with a heavy riff only to have the guitars drop out completely when the first verse begins, leaving only the vocals and drums. Perhaps a different vocalist could have brought more life to these songs and delivered them from the doldrums, but Wicks isn't that vocalist.  However, not all is lost. "Master of Illusion" is the standout cut on the album. The epic length song is a mid-paced hard rock song but about halfway through the song the band breaks into a doomy, Sabbath inspired riff and give Weir are change to flex his musical muscle. As well, the song "Bad Bad Kitty" has sort of a 70's Kiss vibe that I enjoyed. Overall, however, "Noises from the Cathouse" is a fairly disappointing release. Thankfully the band parted ways with Wicks, added vocalist Jacopo Meille and redeemed themselves with "Animal Instinct" a few years later.

Animal Instinct Tygers of Pan Tang - Animal Instinct (Livewire) 2008

1.      Rock Candy (4:16)
2.      Cry Sweet Freedom (4:15)
3.      Live For the Day (4:40)
4.      Let it Burn (4:07)
5.      If You See Kay (5:34)
6.      Hot Blooded (5:05)
7.      Devils Find A Fool (4:10)
8.      Winners And Losers (4:57)
9.      Cruisin' (4:31)
10.     Bury The Hatchet (4:16)
11.     Dark Rider (4:42)

According to the liner notes inside the CD, founding member and guitarist Robb Weir declared that "Animal Instinct" is the album the fans of Tygers have been waiting 26 years. That is a pretty bold statement to make, but I think guitarist Robb Weir attempts to live up to that statement. "Animal Instinct" is a raw, heavy rock and roll album. Songs like "Bury the Hatchet", "Rock Candy" and "Dark Rider" are straight-ahead heavy metal riffery. The main riff in "Bury the Hatchet" actually reminds me of a Saxon song, though I couldn't quite place my finger on which song that was. Other songs like "Cry Sweet Freedom" sports a Thin Lizzy-like twin guitar sound. "Let it Burn" is a fast and furious heavy metal romp. The entire album is energetic and could indeed have been the follow-up to "Crazy Nights" or "Spellbound". Tygers of Pan Tang have always been about catchy songs and "Animal Instinct" has plenty of those, thanks to some catchy vocal melodies. The first three tracks alone would have been considered classic of the Tygers catalog had they been recorded in their heyday. Vocalist Jacoppo Meille, who had been with the band since 2004, has a smooth clear style not unlike vocalist Jon Deverill. His voice is perfectly suited for this band. Weir and guitarist Dean Robertson offer plenty of meaty guitar solos and moving riffs. The production is polished, with every instrument clearly heard, but not so clean that the rock and roll is stripped right out of the album. It's pretty obvious that the Tygers made a deliberate attempt to recapture their classic NWOBHM sound and make an album for their fans.  In that I think they accomplished their mission. "Animal Instinct" might not top the nostalgic favorites of the past, but it should please fans looking for even more from this classic band.

Related collections:
John Sykes

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