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French Maide - The Rat Award winner

French Maide
The Rat
by Rachel Montgomery at 07 February 2020, 5:33 AM

The story of FRENCH MAIDE could be made into a movie about an underdog band who wins the hearts of fans and big acts alike. A local band from Erie, Pennsylvania, they had humble beginnings in 1988 playing cover songs in bars. They rose in fame being hosted in a bar owned by a motorcycle club, moving the pool table to perform sets. As word of mouth spread, they played bigger and bigger gigs through the nineties, opening for bands like THE GODZ. On one of their shows, fans waited for hours in the rain to hear them play after they were stuck in a storm in route to a show. After scrimping and saving, they started recording albums. They produced the first one at Clockwerke Sound Studio in Cleveland called "Maide In America". It was 1991 and the music scene was on the verge of a change. Despite the world moving on from bigger, Glam Rock, through recording in the early and mid-nineties, they stuck to their own style of music making.

Through lineup changes, including incarceration and moves, the band kept playing and recording, opening for bands like TWISTED SISTER. Sadly, after drummer Ray Moffett lost his battle with cancer in 2017, the band decided to call it quits after performing a memorial concert in his honor Labor Day Weekend of that year. A couple of years later, they released a limited-edition release of "The Rat". Its first release as a CD, it was an album the band recorded and released in 1994. Only 500 copies of the re-release were made, and they include stories from the band’s early days and pictures from some of their earliest shows. For fans; it’s a treat since you can hear with each progressing track how the band evolved.

The opening songs clearly show a band with humble beginnings. The production can be sloppy, with the vocals far back on the first track, but after hearing how far the band had to come for this recording, its more like the beginning of a story. Other than that, the musicianship is there. On the opener, “I Know”, the riffs are steady and intense, and with a rocking hook and good drum tricks thrown in, it’s a catchy song. “Been Down Before” sounds like a roadhouse blues song, complete with the styling of GEORGE THOROGOOD’s eponymous riff in “Bad To The Bone”.

The middle tracks are my favorites. “Heat Up My Body” has excellent harmonies between the guitars and soaring melodies with excellent drum lines. “Wretched” also has some great harmony lines and a really good buildup through the intro. Title track “The Rat” contrasts a long, slow electric riff and faster, acoustic arpeggio chords underneath. The vocals on this track and the next few on the album are clear and while they can be a little gravelly, show some great use of range and projection. The later tracks bring some thrash elements in, especially on “The Mission” - which is a high-octane, tuned-down piece that keeps the intensity up from start to finish.

I give them props for never changing their style despite the musical landscape. The band’s style did evolve, from JUDAS PRIEST and MÖTLEY CRÜE style riffs and GEORGE THOROGOOD to thrashier influences like early METALLICA. Overall, the album is a treat for fans, being the band’s story both in musical inclusion and in their story of being musicians who won the hearts of metalheads in Erie PA. If you’re into simple, 80s-style metal with some blues and progressive leanings, this is a band worth checking out.

Songwriting: 8
Production: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. I Know
2. Silent Anger
3. Crime Reaction
4. To You
5. The Mission
6. Deception
7. Wretched
8. The Rat
9. Love Breaks
10. Down, Down
11. I've Been Down Before
12. Catholic Girls
13. Heat Up My Body
14. Just Don't Care
Lineup:
Michael Deaux - Bass
Ray Moffett - Drums
Dana Williams - Guitars
Todd Szoszorek - Guitars
Tony Mankoski - Vocals
Kent Williams - Drums
Ron Wheeler - Guitars
Gina Cimino - Keyboards
Record Label: Heaven & Hell Records
     


Rating

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Edited 21 February 2020
 

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