This is a 2 cd retrospective of former Hanoi Rocks frontman, Michael Monroe and this collection spans the past 30 years, since the release of his debut solo album, Nights Are So Long.
My first introduction to the uber-blond Finn was via Hanoi Rocks in 1983 and the single, Malibu Beach Nightmare. And since then, I’ve dipped in and out of his career.
I’ve been lucky to catch him live three times: Once with Hanoi Rocks and twice solo, including on the tour for his album, Not Fakin’ It. A quick visit to Setlist.fm tells me the gig was February 21st 1990 at the Town and Country Club in London, which is now called The Forum.
And it’s a track from Not Fakin’ It that kicks off this collection.
I kind of split the songs into two categories, the Rock N Rollers and the slower ones. I’m not a massive fan of the slower stuff, but the faster material is some of the best you’ll ever hear, including opener, Dead, Jail Or Rock N Roll.
And hearing this track for the first time in quite a few years, it’s easy to see why he (and Hanoi Rocks) influenced the likes of Guns N Rose and Motley Crue.
Unfortunately a lot of the material is hit and miss, depending on your tastes. Songs like The Man With No Eyes and It’s A Lie, the duet with the late Lords of the New Church frontman, Stiv Bators border on whimsical, with the latter sounding like a George Harrison ballad.
For me, it’s the rockers that “float my boat”, and thankfully there are plenty here, including the finale of Steppenwolf’s, Magic Carpet Ride, which features Slash on guitar. This is another remake of the song they originally covered in 1993 for The Coneheads movie. The Steppenwolf version is one of my favourite tracks from the 1960s, but this takes it to a whole new level…
78 from 2011’s superb, Sensory Overdrive, is a highlight too. As is Ballad of the Lower East Side from 2013’s Horns and Halos.
There are a few tracks I’m hearing for the first time as I have dipped in and out of Mr Monroe’s career. The best are Where’s The Fire John? (from Piece of Mind), which has a feel of London Town about it, as does Hammersmith Palais, obviously. This was from his time with Demolition 23 and is just me or is the riff from the Sex Pistol’s, God Save The Queen?
If you’ve not discovered Michael Monroe’s music before, this is a very good introduction. I’d also recommend some of his earlier work with Hanoi Rocks, beginning with the live album, All Those Wasted Years. Which I had as part of a double tape with their 1984 album, Two Steps from the Move. I’d also give Back To Mystery City a spin too, although a couple of the songs on that album are beginning to age a bit, as I last played that about a week ago.
For someone whose recording career began, what, 36 years ago, it’s amazing how relevant/fresh his music still feels today. And glasses raised for a very pleasant trip down memory lane.