I’ve got both XYZ albums on LP. Well, I got the debut because Don Dokken was producing and I liked it, so I got the next one a few years after it came out, which by then, I think the band was already broken up, because hey, hair bands didn’t warrant call backs from the label suits anymore. And the majority of the magazines didn’t report on the progress of bands who weren’t popular anymore.
“Hungry” was released in 1991 and recently it has been coming up on my Spotify home page as an album I should play, based on my past listening, because up until today, I haven’t played it on Spotify at all. Well, Mr Algorithm, I guess it’s your luck day as I’m pressing play.
One thing that stood out for me for about XYZ is the music. I liked it, I could relate to it and I even wrote riffs similar to it. And the lead breaks rocked and shredded and wailed when they needed to.
But music is a business and record labels want to make money at an exponential rate. So the labels got producers to work with bands and that work involved making the band sound like other bands, especially the singers.
At one point in time, I couldn’t tell the difference between Tangier, Babylon A.D, XYZ, Danger Danger, Hericane Alice, XYZ and Roxy Blue. To even prove my point, I did a mix tape of songs from all their albums that had a similar vocal style, and even though side one had seven different artists, it all sounded like an album from just ONE artist. Maybe a future blogpost right here.
Anyway, I digress. Let’s get back to XYZ.
The best song on the album is “Off To The Sun”. The feel of this song is epic, reminding me of the 70’s artists, it’s also very Dio like in the vocals, the music is excellent and the lead break from Marc Diglio is the stuff of guitar heroes. Another great guitar player who is virtually unknown.
“Face Down In The Gutter”, “Don’t Say No” and “When The Night Comes Down” contain great riffage and music overall plus the lead breaks from Marc Diglio is the stuff of guitar heroes.
“I’ve got JD eyes so I don’t need to see, to know I have landed where I wanted to be” is from “Face Down In The Gutter”. If the lyric didn’t connect with people, then they obviously don’t drink and there was a time in my life I didn’t trust anyone who didn’t drink. Anyway, who hasn’t tried to drown their sorrows in a bottle of whiskey.
The next best song is “The Sun Also Rises In Hell”. Great title and it’s basically a speed metal song that Helloween would be proud of, hell even Dokken wrote similar songs like “Till The Living End” and “Lightning Strikes Again”. Actually, this song does have elements of the Dokken songs and like all of the other songs, it has another unbelievable guitar solo from Marc Siglio.
The self-titled debut from Danger Danger was up next, again another recommendation from Mr Algorithm.
I have it on LP and I must say, I like this album and the guitar playing from Tony “Bruno” Rey (Saraya guitarist) on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 and Andy Timmons on tracks 3 and 7.
Along with Marc Soligo mentioned above and Bill Leverty from Firehouse, these guys could take a stock chord progression and make it sound exciting. And when it came time to shine, they sure knew how to make that moment great. In relation to Tony Rey, you really need to hear the work he did with Saraya. Great song writing, great playing and killer leads.
Also, all of these guys merged so many different styles like EVH tapping, Malmsteen sweeps, Bratta melodicism, Rhoads modal style of writing, Sykes Pentatonic lines and whatever blues artist influenced them into a cohesive, melodic, rocky, metally style.
“Naughty Naughty” and “Under The Gun” is a tickling melodic one two combination punch. It’s not a hard punch like “Blackened” and “Justice For All” from Metallica but a playful punch.
My more metal mates couldn’t understand how I could sit down to learn “And Justice For All” and “Under The Gun” in the same sitting. To them, it was sacrilegious to like Danger Danger and Metallica. Hell, even James Hetfield fostered this attitude, as he had a guitar that said “Kill Bon Jovi” on it. To me, I was one of those fans of the early 80’s who liked metal and rock before the crowd splintered into the different genres made up by the record label marketing teams. So as long as it got my head moving, my foot tapping, I was in.
Going back to Hetfield, he was a rebel and we connected with him. He had his acne problems (we all had similar problems) which is why he started to grow his beard and goatee and he wasn’t a pretty boy, even though Lars probably wanted the band to become cultural stylists, which he finally did with the “Load” albums.
And Hetfield put his views out. He laid into Lars for his drumming, he spoke his mind in interviews and even “the Kill Bon Jovi” writing on his guitar was a viewpoint at the commercialism of music. But money trumps everything, and it changes everything. Even James Hetfield.
Anyway, I digress again. Back to Danger Danger.
“Saturday Nite” takes “Blackout” from Scorpions and makes it even more mainstream. It sounds like a million other songs about getting out and partying on a Saturday night, but if you haven’t heard any of those, well then this one sounds original.
“Don’t Walk Away” is one of my favourite tracks. Maybe because it sounds like “Hysteria”. Maybe because of the way Rey decorates the stock chord progression with little guitar licks and motifs here and there. Maybe because of the guitar solo, and when it all comes together, it sounds great.
“Bang Bang” is a dumb song lyrically. The only saving grace is the lead break from Rey and the vocal melody. All they need is better words. “Rock America” could have been on a Bruce Springsteen album, or even a Night Ranger album. Even though the song is a good listen, and it has a “be who you want to be, this is your life” message, by 1989, America had been rocked for nearly 8 years, and it was looking for a different rock. Then again, it didn’t stop me from listening to this song over and over again. And the lead break from Timmons is excellent.
“Boys Will Be Boys” was a single, but it didn’t connect with me as the lyrics were crap. By 1989, most boys were “smoking the sky” as Corabi sang in the self-tilted Motley Crue album a few years later, and doing the rattlesnake shake at home and hoping that the girls wanted to have fun with them, because the boys didn’t have the balls to make the move.
In “Live It Up”, Bruno Ravel and Steve West tell us if we work hard from 9 to 5, the tax man will leave us with just enough to survive, but we shouldn’t worry about that, we got to live it up.
So what’s the message today from these two bands. Live it up, be who you want to be and if that’s not enough, that JD bottle is waiting to be consumed.