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Album Review : Hanoi Rocks Oriental Beat (40 year re(al)mix)

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Review by Rob Broom for MPM

After 40 years Hanoi Rocks get to finish and release their own vision of how second album Oriental Beat should have sounded first time around. 

Looking and sounding like mixed up New York Dolls and Rolling Stones with a strong dose of glam and punk attitude, Hanoi Rocks first came to my attention with their blistering live album ‘’All Those Wasted Years’ when it was released circa 1984. There was already 4 studio albums to then check out but to some extent to my ears at the time those got overshadowed by the live record. Then the tremendous ‘Two Steps From The Move’  landed and the band were poised for great success until tragedy struck with the death of drummer Razzle.
Despite some attempts to continue the band then folded although more recently have got together on occasions whilst lead singer Michael Monroe has also enjoyed a healthy solo career and other band members have worked with a number of other artists.

The original ‘Oriental Beat’ album was released in 1982 and its fair to say from the recent press release that Hanoi Rocks were not happy with that version of the album (although listening briefly to it today it doesn’t sound that bad!) and so here we have their ‘definite’ version.

With a new running order the album kicks off with the double header of title track ‘Oriental Beat’ and ‘Motorvatin’’. Both of these are classic Hanoi Rocks tunes and instantly you can hear the freshness and vibrancy. Recorded 40 years ago? Hell this sounds like yesterday! There is a real punch to this re(al)mix!

‘No More Law and Order’ is straight out of the play book from the Clash. A reggae like groove unpins a catchy tune with some great harmony. Once its in your head it doesn’t leave!

‘Teenangels Outsiders’ has some great terrific guitar moments and so many of us will resonate with the lyrics of our youth. There’s a nice sax break as well. The band were full of talent and it shows and sounds throughout the album. They were also excellent live.

‘Sweet Home Suburbia’ dives between the Stones circa ‘Exile’ onwards and the Clash. It, like many Hanoi songs gets a little darker with the lyrics. Guitarist Andy McCoy wrote most of the lyrics on the album with contributions from Monroe and others.

‘MC Baby’ is another rocker, its riff and beat reminds me briefly of Doctor Feelgood, before it explodes into another spiky Hanoi classic. It rattles along at a fair pace with more great guitar work and next track ‘Don’t Follow Me’ keeps up the tempo.

‘Visitor’ takes a bit of a darker twist lyrically, but keeps the pace and punch of the two preceding songs. Theres more sax and just a superb beat all the way through.

‘Lightnin’ Bar Blues’ gives us a respite from the fury and like the earlier ‘No More Law and Order’, has a great harmony that sticks in your head and gets your toe tapping. This is a song that always brings a smile to my face and I hope it does the same for you!

Last but one track ‘Devil Woman’ digs deep into the rock and roll heritage. There is an Elvis meets Jerry Lee Lewis meets the Pirates feel to the tune but its still vamped up and fits right in with the rest of the album.

Final track ‘Fallen Star’ is all about the vocals with a piano accompaniment. Mournful and melancholy its a great album closer as it is such a change of pace from the rest of the record. Quite beautiful.

So 40 years on, this remixed album brims with excitement and urgency. It is worth adding to your collection and if you are new to Hanoi Rocks then a great place to start.




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