Review Summary: WAITING FOR THE ROAR was a creative & commercial misstep that would do little to increase their fortunes. It's a slickly produced pop-metal album that bears little resemblance to the raucous bluesy hard rock of their first two albums.
WAITING FOR THE ROAR is a slickly produced pop-metal album that bears little resemblance to the raucous bluesy hard rock of Fastway’s first two albums. Many hard rock & metal bands had fallen prey to glossy makeovers in the mid-80s as they hoped to cash in during an era when these genres were finally getting airplay. In Fastway’s case, this would be both a creative & commercial misstep that would do little to increase their fortunes. My own first impression upon hearing his album in 1986 was one of confusion and great disappointment. Aside from not liking it much, I didn’t even bother probing deeper to figure out why until 2015.
The problems seem almost too evident from the start. Every song on the first half of the album is drenched with fairly obtrusive synthesizer textures. Fast Eddie Clarke’s guitar riffs powered most of the early Fastway catalog, yet here they are much lower in the mix and seem less pivotal. Their single “The World Waits For You” is essentially a power ballad that seems rather moody and downbeat for an album opener. While it one of the more memorable tracks here, it’s a fairly 2nd rate song by Fastway’s original standards.
“Kill Me With Your Heart” is a bit more energetic, yet polished too smooth to increase my blood pressure any. Dave King seems a bit out of his element with much of this material, although he does make an admirable attempt to redeem this somewhat mediocre material. The ballad “Change” seems to come a bit too early in the track order, making it even harder for me to stifle my yawns. Their cover of Janis Joplin’s “Move Over” looked good on paper, but winds up being a bit of a missed opportunity. King’s vocal lacks the passion of the original and is further hindered by the synthesizer washes during the sections that were originally done a capella by Janis.
After a fairly dismal first half, the album does improve slightly when the overpowering synths are dialed back in the mix. “Little By Little” is a slow, but catchy rocker that is more in the spirit of the older Fastway albums. “Rock On” is even more energetic and seems promising until the rather formulaic chorus arrives. The backing vocal parts seem too unnatural due to the amount of sound processing used. The title track comes on strong with a show of aggression that is distressingly rare in these songs. It too inevitably falls short due to the keyboards and production choices that creep in towards the end of the song. “Girl” suffers a similar fate, but is a lesser track to begin with. The album ends with the bluesy up tempo hard rocker “Back Door Man”, which does little to improve upon this already troubled collection.
It would be almost too easy to place the blame on Terry Manning’s production, but the band also seems complicit. They were obviously striving for greater accessibility and commercial acceptance, but instead removed their more appealing elements. It also pains me to say that Dave King’s vocal performances here gradually go from being an essential asset to an irritant. His edgy tone gets a bit more wearing once you reach the end of the album and doesn’t always complement the material. Ultimately, it’s about the songs and there are very few here that are compelling enough to revisit.
Song Picks: “The World Waits For You”.