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Hanoi Rocks - Oriental Beat (Reissue)

Hanoi Rocks
Oriental Beat (Reissue)
by Anna Chase at 18 March 2017, 9:46 PM

HANOI ROCKS isn’t a brand new band to me. I’ve listened to their first album “Bangkok Rocks, Saigon Shakes” multiple times (I wrote a review on it, in fact), and I was impressed by the quality of their sound. Especially, given that this was the early 80’s and they were recording in an amateur studio. If you don’t know the tragic story of HANOI ROCKS’s rapid rise and tragic fall from fame, basically Vince Neil’s drunken joyride resulted in the sudden, accidental death of the band’s talented and charismatic drummer, Nicholas Dingley, a.k.a. “Razzle.” After this, the group lost momentum, breaking up and reuniting multiple times before front man Michael Monroe split it off for good to start his own solo act in the early 2000’s. HANOI ROCKS is talented, and an obvious influence on later Rock n’ Roll acts such as GUNS AND ROSES and KISS. They’re essentially one of the missing founding fathers of rock, and what I think of as their last great album “Oriental Beat” exemplifies this.

“Motorvatin” the album’s first song, screams of Classic Rock. Yaffa’s swinging bass provides the perfect backdrop for Monroe’s vocals, and the chorus is absolutely infectious. It’s a classic anthem that makes you want to crank the radio and go 80 down the highway with the wind in your hair. Already, the production quality is far better than that of “Bangkok Rocks, Saigon Shakes.” The sound is clearer and more polished, and the pure energy of this song drew me into the rest of the album.

Don’t Follow Me” is an insanely catchy song, don’t get me wrong. The lyrics seemed a bit out of place (where do cowgirls fit in with HANOI ROCK’s image of leather and hairspray?), but the musicianship is solid and I enjoyed Monroe’s collaboration with a female singer, which added depth to the track. Razzle’s drums are far more complex than those of the previous drummers’, and the stylistic guitar riffs give the song a rockabilly vibe.

“Visitor” is a huge leap from the previous song’s style, it’s pure, unadulterated Punk, in everything from the vocals to the thumping rhythm guitar. The drums also stand out in this track, with Razzle’s unique rhythm and backdrop of relentless hi-hat. Now, I’ve compared this group to the NEW YORK DOLLS before, and that same parallel shines through in the next track, “Teenangles Outsiders.” Now, if you asked me what a teenangle was, I couldn’t tell you. However, what I do know is that Monroe’s voice sounds almost exactly like the Glam-Punk wail of Johnny Thunders (of the NEW YORK DOLLS). The harmonica returns in the background of this song, and the groove of Andy McCoy’s solo creates electricity in this track, which instantly revitalizes the listener.

“M.C. Baby” brings us back to the bluesy rhythms that closely resemble those of the SEX PISTOLS. Monroe’s vocals are entertaining, decidedly Punk-Rock, and are the star of this track. The guitar riff comes off as a bit repetitive. However, I thought that the isolated guitar work by McCoy was a smart move that showcased his talent. “No Law or Order” is a strangely peppy track given such a controversial and serious subject. However, I liked the juxtaposition (whether intentional or otherwise) between the group’s mentions of police brutality compared with the patriotically bubbly background riffs. I can’t argue that government corruption is a classic theme in Punk songs (“Anarchy in the U.K.” anyone?) and even in modern rap and hip-hop.

Its follow-up, “Oriental Beat,” is the title track of the album, so I didn’t want to be let down. HANOI ROCKS did not disappoint. The track is a dynamic and aggressively Punk-Glam theme song. McCoy and Suicide’s guitar work is invigorating and blends terrifically with Monroe’s voice to create an unforgettable anthem. “Devil Woman” is a weird track, but in a good way. Monroe’s Finnish accent juxtaposed with classical bluesy riffs seems like it would be awkward, but HANOI ROCKS make it work. The vibrant electronica of the guitar overlapped with chugging bass and a harmonica track creates a highly enjoyable song about the classic theme of infidelity.

The transformation in style from “Devil Woman” to the next, “Fallen Star,” is astonishing. It shows Monroe’s versatility, as he goes from rapid-fire rock to a tranquil ballad about love and loss. The song’s background is fairly bare compared to others, however, the simplicity of the keyboard works well with the vocals to create a melancholy tone.

In general, even though Glam isn’t my favorite genre by a long stretch, I appreciated HANOI ROCKS’s transition to a more Punk tone. It worked in their favor, and I could sense a palpable improvement in quality of production. The album is solid, and definitely brings the listener back to 80’s nostalgia.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Motorvatin’
2. Don’t Follow Me
3. Visitor
4. Teenangles Outsiders
5. Sweet Home Suburbia
6. M.C. Baby
7. No Law or Order
8. Oriental Beat
9. Devil Woman
10. Lightnin’ Bar Blues
11. Fallen Star
Lineup:
Sami Yaffa- Bass
Nicholas Dingley (“Razzle”)- Drums
Nasty Suicide- Rhythm guitar
Andy McCoy- Lead guitar
Michael Monroe- Vocals
Record Label: Dissonance Productions
     


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Edited 27 September 2020
 

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