I was thinking about this thing with musicians being in multiple bands recently. Back in the 70’s/80’s/90’s, that was more or less unthinkable – back then you played in one band and you gave that your all and maybe, just maybe you could go out and make a solo album if you had too much music inside of you that didn’t fit your day job. Today the situation is different – way different. Today it’s rare to do only one band and it’s very easy to understand why. Ever since file-sharing, YouTube and later Spotify came into people’s lives, making a living on selling records has become more or less impossible and therefore musicians are more or less forced to put out as music anyway they can. While it’s great that we’re being served with all this new music, it also runs the risk of being a bit overmuch because there are so many different projects out in later years that it is hard to keep up with everything and when things go overkill, people lose interest. It’s hard to eat when your stomach is full no matter how tasty the food is. Frontiers Records is a record company that is known for putting out melodic rock / AOR projects in a real fast pace and sometimes it works splendidly and sometimes it doesn’t. My only objection to some of them is that I miss the heart and soul, some feels more like the musicians involved are only the for the pay check and then wam bam thank you ma’am, gone – and I’m pretty sure that is case sometimes. I’m a band dude and I like it best when I get a band feel, where the guys involved writes the songs together and comes forward as a real band.
Enter: Tokyo Motor Fist, the latest collaboration project on Frontiers. In this band lead singer Ted Poley (Danger Danger) has teamed up with guitarist Steve Brown (Trixter), bassist Greg Smith (Rainbow, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper) and drummer Chuck Bürgi (Rainbow, Joe Lynn Turner) to try to create some new music and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what kind of music we’re gonna get when you consider the band members involved – and the record company that releases the album. However, when it comes to melodic hard rock, there is some huge talent involved both when it comes to song writing and as musicians so I was really excited to find out what the guys have come up with here. Now, I know that neither Trixter or D2 were ever big bands and both have been ridiculed by many rockers for being cheesy and unoriginal and I can honestly say that I have never been a huge fan of neither, but judging by the highly qualitative Trixter albums after their reunion – New Audio Machine, 2012 and Human Era, 2015 – there is a big possibility that this project will turn out really good.
Opener “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” wipes away every single doubt that might have crept up inside my head right away. It’s a stellar melodic hard rocker straight out of 1989 and sounds exactly like Trixter’s and D2’s bastard child without sounding the slightest tired or watered. It rocks with passion and soul and it’s easy to hear how much these guys loves this kind of music – catchiness deluxe! The same thing goes for “Love Me Insane”, an uptempo rocker that falls somewhere right in between AOR and melodic rock. The 80’s influence is all over the place and it sounds much like the best tune D2 never wrote. The chorus is such an unbelievable K-O that I’m wonderin’ how and where Brown and Poley manages do write stuff like this without it sounding dated one bit – awesome. “Shameless” is a bona fide party rocker that will kick your ass and make you pick up the beer on a Tuesday morning. Sound wise this is Human Era era Trixter with Ted Poley on vocals – brilliant stuff. “Love” is a ballad that mixes Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” with D2 and a little Beatles on the top. It’s good without being remarkable in any way.
“Black And Blue” is a standard melodic rocker in a mid pace that really doesn’t do that much. It’s not bad at all, it just doesn’t hit bull’s-eye like the previous rockers did. “You’re My Revolution” is faster with chugging guitars and has a fuel-injected drive with an almost punky attitude without losing any of the melodies and catchiness – bloody good stuff! “Don’t Let Me Go” is a power ballad that just screams 1990 and in my mind I can imagine the video for this one had it been released that year. MTV would have played it to death back then but today is a different musical world. I’m a sucker for a well-written power ballad and therefore I embrace this without any hesitation – a monster without a doubt! Big on the groove, the rough yet slick, big guitar:ed “Put Me To Shame” hits without mercy, kind of like modern-day Trixter with a recognizable refrain and some edgy vocals by Poley. Original? Not in the least. Awesome? You bet ya! “Done To Me” is in mid tempo, but with a groove and some melodic rock heaviness. The riffs and rhythm in the verse sounds like modern-day Trixter has re-written “Pour Some Sugar On Me” (Def Leppard) but the chorus is Poley-sung Human Era Trixter all the way – so memorable a senile would remember it. “Get You Off My Mind” is an up-tempo ballad with its feet in 1990 and the tune really screams D2 meets Trixter. These boys nails this stuff like a piece of cake. Closing track “Fallin’ Apart” is another track that D2 could have killed for. This pop-rocker has 1989-1991 written all over it and with a smashing melody and a refrain catchier than a VD, this tune is stickier than super-glue – Fan – bloody – tastic!
So what we have here is an album by a project / super group that contains musicians who has had zero respect from “true” rockers, whose original bands were almost laughing stocks of metal (Brown and Poley) together with two well-respected musicians (Smith and Bürgi) and together they have shown the world a big middle-finger when it turns out that said album is absolutely awesome! Sure, the boys hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel, this is melodic hard rock with AOR undertones and yes, we’ve heard this before but who gives a rat when the songs are this good? And good songs is what it’s all about, in my opinion. Also, this band isn’t the least cheesy or wimpy – the music rocks all the way and I’m sure they will kick ass live – if that ever happens. I have no clue of what a Tokyo Motor Fist is and I don’t care – I just hope that this thing will turn into a real band with many more killer records to come. Highly recommended!
1. Pickin’ Up The Pieces
2. Love Me Insane
5. Black And Blue
6. You’re My Revolution
7. Don’t Let Me Go
8. Put Me To Shame
9. Done To Me
10. Get You Off My Mind
11. Fallin’ Apart