Hanoi Rocks
Another Hostile Takeover


3.5
great

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
November 30th, 2006 | 7 replies | 4,788 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


When Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil’s Panther swerved and hit an oncoming car side-on, killing his passenger Razzle Dingley, Hanoi Rocks all but died with him.

The English drummer had only joined the band two years previously, but had an immediate impact upon the group’s music and image. It was he who pushed the other members to fully embrace the glam look (to match their Dolls-inspired rock n’ roll), and he who gave Hanoi Rocks the “swing” that Andy McCoy’s Chuck Berry-alike riffs demanded. Without him the band fell apart, and the album that threatened to be their breakthrough, the Bob Ezrin-produced Two Steps From The Move, turned out to be their bitter swansong.

Believing they couldn’t possibly continue as a band, the group disbanded in 1985. Seventeen years later, time has obviously healed those wounds. Frontman Mike Monroe and main songwriter and guitarist Andy McCoy resurrected the name and recorded Twelve Shots On The Rocks with three session players filling in for bassist Sami Yaffa (now a New York Doll) and guitarist Nasty Suicide (now Jan Stenfors, a pharmacist). Few expected a follow-up, but in 2005 they dropped Another Hostile Takeover, having recruited guitarist Conny Bloom and A.C. Christell (ex- of Swedish funk-metal band Electric Boys) and retained Finnish drummer Lacu from the previous record.

Twelve Shots On The Rocks was essentially a throw-back to the band’s classic era, the post-Razzle, pre-Two Steps period. Another Hostile Takeover is another beast entirely, having more in common with Mike Monroe’s solo releases than anything the band produced, with only the ultra-slick Two Steps From The Move as a reference point. Yes, Another Hostile Takeover rocks with the best of ‘em, but there’s other forces at work as well: Finnish beatmakers DJ Alimo and DJ Control contribute to two standout tracks, the ambient pop of ‘The Devil In You’ and the self-evident ‘Reggae Rocker,’ while the album as a whole is more thoughtfully-produced, with guitars and vocals heavy in the mix at the expense of the rhythm section.

The song choice also shies away from the raucous rock of Back To Mystery City et al, the group opting instead for a wider range of material. Opener ‘Back In Yer Face’ is a chunky rocker in the vein of Hanoi Rocks-acolytes Backyard Babies, with a more-aggressive-than-usual vocal from Monroe and a catchy, explosive chorus the group’s not generally known for. Downbeat rocker ‘Hurt’ is more than a little bit reminiscent of Get A Grip-era Aerosmith, while ‘Eternal Optimist’ is a far-too-calculated radio rock song, with wonderfully tight guitar work (check out those flamenco rolls!) its only real saving grace.

‘Experimental’ isn’t really the word to use when the music is this self-consciously slick, but there are moments on Another Hostile Takeover where one can justifiably ask, “why aren’t all pop albums this well executed?” ‘The Devil In You’ is probably the most accomplished of Mike Monroe’s flirtations with New Romanticism, channelling both Duran Duran and Savage Garden, while ‘Reggae Rocker’ takes a sublime Joe Strummer-like chorus and pits it against a funky rapped verse that almost (I said almost) hits the lows of Extreme’s ‘I’m The President.’ “Clap yer hands!” Yeah, hold on…

The obligatory cover song is Phil Lynott’s ‘Dear Miss Lonely Hearts,’ from 1983’s Solo In Soho, and it’s difficult to imagine a more apt choice. The band pay tribute to one of the late rocker’s lesser-known hits, adding their own sleazy swagger (should that be ‘drunken stagger’?) to the track, itself one of the better products of a rocker struggling to transfer his talents to the pop scene. ‘Love’ is a pure rockabilly track that could as easily fit on the latest New York Dolls release, while ‘Better High’ draws a line somewhere between the blues-y proto-punk of old and modern Scandinavian hard rock.

‘No Compromise, No Regrets,’ inspired by the Stiv Bators (deceased singer; The Dead Boys, Lords of the New Church) track of the same name, was the last song Mike Monroe wrote with his late wife and writing partner June Wilder. If ever a lesson was needed of how to write a truly heart-rending rock ballad was needed, this is the one: a wonderfully tasteful arrangement takes in unobtrusive strings and synthesisers, allowing the beauty of the melody and the lyrics to take centre stage. Monroe sings, ”When everything in life seems like you’re slowly going nowhere, make no compromise, have no regrets.”

‘Centre of my Universe’ is an old track, dating back almost a decade. It’s Andy McCoy’s most personal, and most accomplished, lyric to date, written with the death of his own wife in mind. If ‘No Compromise, No Regrets’ is the best example of the “new” Hanoi Rocks, ‘Centre of my Universe’ harks back to the band’s glory days, with an unassuming melody that invites the listener rather than inviting itself over, and features an all-too-rare sax solo from the multi-talented singer.

While the record features just as many clever and amusing one-liners as we’ve come to expect (see: ”by the time you’re forty you’ll have the face that you deserve” from ‘Back In Yer Face’), ‘Centre of my Universe’ is an example of McCoy’s more soulful side, an aspect of his songwriting he’s only allowed glimpses of on previous Hanoi records. It must also be noted that Andy isn’t a native English speaker, but lyrics so raw and honest would look good in any songwriter’s notebook.


”You used to be the centre of my universe,
You were my gravity that kept me down to earth,
My head sky high and my feet firmly on the ground.
Then came the end, now it seems to me my friend,
I’m alone in the centre of my universe.”


Still, ‘Centre of my Universe’ is an example of the one spot in which Another Hostile Takeover fails: the Hanoi Rocks of old never sold you a melody you didn’t want and, as the best tracks on this album prove, they’re still quite capable of making great rock, and even pop, music without all the excess production. Fans will inevitably point out the it’s not “the real Hanoi Rocks,” but Another Hostile Takeover is more than a good enough continuation of the legacy. Here’s hoping (wishing, begging) they keep making music together.



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user ratings (12)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jom
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2006



2634 Comments


... and guitarist Nasty Suicide (now Jan Stenfors, a pharmacist).

The situational irony of this sentence is awesome.

I'll have to stream the two tracks on here soon... I'm listening to non-glam music right now B-)

The Sludge
November 30th 2006



2169 Comments


Ahhhh, those sample songs on here wasn't doing it for me, but this is a bad ass review.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2006



2634 Comments


liar


http://www.last.fm/user/jomdoesnotlistentoglamatnight

francesfarmer
November 30th 2006



1477 Comments


Same as it ever was
SmaeThis Message Edited On 11.30.06

The Sludge
November 30th 2006



2169 Comments


[quote=Jom]http://www.last.fm/user/jomdoesnotlistentoglamatnight[/quote]
Lolz

ToWhatEnd
December 1st 2006



3172 Comments


I've heard this group's name somewhere. I think Bam mentioned them playing at some Sweedish Festival (Ruis Rock sp? maybe that's not even the right one and maybe it's not in Sweeden) with HIM and stuff. Can't say much more about them. Very nice review as usual and lol about the links.

samthebassman
July 17th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A really fun & rocking album.



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