Review Summary: Maybe if Mutt Lange and his pre-blackmailing Shania Twain to bang him days would have taken on Tygers of Pan Tang instead of Def Leppard old school hard rock fans would be revering them instead and Rick Allen would still have two arms.
We’ve all heard the story about for some ungodly reason artist so-and-so in genre whatever got totally screwed by their record company or their manager didn’t blow enough radio programmers and consequently said artist faded into oblivion which is a damn shame because album fill-in-the-blank totally kicked ass and was way better than everything else that was popular. Pick a genre, pick a decade and we can go on all day about this without accomplishing anything. It’s a fact of life that winners are not always the ones who deserve it, and music is no different.
With that said, I am righteously pissed that Tygers of Pan Tang weren’t huge. I’m guessing their record company rep was a douche or maybe they weren’t as grotesquely marketable as Def Leppard or maybe radio stations back then just had their heads up their asses, or maybe it’s because none of their other albums aren’t really all that great, but “Spellbound” is the kind of album that in that era should have sold at least 2 mil. I’m not saying “Spellbound” is as good as “Lightning to the Nations,” because pretty much nothing on this planet is, but it was easily one of the best NWOBHM albums ever and quite possibly, in a grand sense of irony, the most marketable. Now that I think about it, “Lightning to the Nations” would be entirely forgotten if it wasn’t for Metallica, so I should be even more pissed about that. Maybe the entire world just thought the whole NWOBHM movement was Iron Maiden and Def Leppard and everybody else aside from Saxon (kind of) could f*ck off into obscurity.
The primary reason “Spellbound” is an awesome album is pretty simple; it had John Sykes as the lead guitarist and chief songwriter. The same John Sykes that co-wrote most of the best Whitesnake songs and only got thrown out of the band because he had the 2nd largest ego on the planet (David Coverdale was #1). It’s a short ride, about 34 minutes of engaging hooks, classic rock/metal riffs, and the prototypical clean metal singing of the era. There’s a token power ballad, a retarded and completely unnecessary instrumental interlude, and at least 4 songs that should have been classic metal staples. From the call to arms awesomeness of “Hellbound” to the insanely, ridiculously hook driven catchiness of “The Story So Far” and “Take It” to the legitimate bad-ass-ness of “Gangland,” this is arguably Sykes’ best work aside from the commercially titanic Whitesnake self –titled.
Maybe if Mutt Lange and his pre-blackmailing Shania Twain to bang him days would have taken on Tygers of Pan Tang instead of Def Leppard old school hard rock fans would be revering them instead and Rick Allen would still have two arms, I don’t know. What is immediately apparent is outside of Maiden, who does not fit any of the other bands in the supposed genre; this is a top 5 album of the movement. For now they will just have to settle for being never weres instead of has-beens and unfortunately the pinnacle of their career was when Lars Ulrich dropped their names in “A year and a Half in the Life of Metallica” when he was talking about all of the British bands he and Jaymz wanted to rip off in 1981. At least they got that going for them.