Album #522 – Back To Mystery City

Album #522

Hanoi Rocks are the most successful rock band to come out of Finland. They continue to tour and record. But, many do not know much about this band, as they has little commercial success. They lived the typical, gritty rock n’ roll lifestyle but, were not making much money until the release of this album, Back to Mystery City, which lead to a record deal and a collaboration with Bob Ezrin. The album was produced by two ex-members of Mott the Hoople. That band’s sound definitely comes through on this album along with power pop of the late 70’s and the Clash. In fact, Hanoi Rocks’ sound is much more punk and glam influenced as opposed to metal or blues. After having been living on the road and in the street for a few years, the lyrical subject matter is pure rock n’ roll: drugs, girls, sex, poverty. But, there are also love songs and conventional pop songs. Only a band like Hanoi Rocks could come out of Finland because of all the influences and their sound. They cannot be easily pigeonholed: something missing from some of today’s music. At the core is lead singer Michael Monroe, who has a voice that combines Joe Strummer with Marc Bolan. Monroe is also friends with many hard rock heavyweights: Axl Rose, Steven Van Zandt, Alice Cooper and Slash. Guitarist Andy McCoy wrote most of the album’s tracks and has a unique guitar style that is as diverse as the band’s influences. Why is a rock band from Finland so important? Well, just look at who they influenced. Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Poison, Ratt and the entire glam metal genre owe a debt to Hanoi Rocks. The group’s appearance and look was copied by many of these bands, but many including Joe Eliott of Def Leppard, say Hanoi Rocks were the only band to pull it off successfully. Future Finnish rock bands The 69 Eyes, HIM and Children of Bodom owe a debt to the group too. They are also a favorite of the Foo Fighters and the Manic Street Preachers.  Their live performances were (and still are) amazing. It’s ironic that some of metal’s finest owe their career to a band that made music that sounded quite the opposite. Hanoi Rocks is a band that were true to themselves and were unique for the time. It’s sad in someways that an innovative band never gets the credit that they deserve. But, the album challenge does that, especially with Hanoi Rocks: a band to which glam metal became a force in 80’s rock. Highlights include: Malibu Beach Nightmare, Mental Beat, Tooting Bec Wreck, Salling Down The Tears, Lick Summer Love, Ice Cream Summer and Back to Mystery City. Overall, I give Back to Mystery City, 4 out of 5.

Next: She’s So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper

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