Hanoi Rocks – Oriental Beat (40th Anniversary)
Release Date: 17/03/23
Running Time: 35:48
Review by Simon Black
Imagine if you will a teenaged version of me starting to get into Hard Rock and Metal music for the first time in the late 1980’s. Although I came from the Prog and Rock end of things originally, the more raucous sounds, wild image and excessive lifestyle of the Glam movement caught my ear for a while, although you will be pleased to know I grew out of it quite quickly. By the time that brief dalliance occurred, Hanoi Rocks were already gone, unable to keep going for long after the death of drummer Razzle at the hands of Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil driving under the influence. The fact that he got away so lightly in the eyes of the law is as much of a crime as the early death of this hugely influential act in the eyes of many.
Whether they would have kept going for much longer is debatable anyway – excess, substance abuse, a bit more excess, back-to-back albums, a little bit more excess, a gruelling touring schedule and divisive egos were already working away at their foundations after a whirlwind four years since their debut album hit the racks and the band relocated to London from Stockholm. I didn’t come across them until the fag end of the 80’s when a dear late friend, who loved the band unequivocally educated me with a worn-out VHS copy of their seminal performance at London’s Marquee Club (it’s long since deleted but you can find it on YouTube, and the soundtrack at least is available on the “All Those Wasted Years (Live)”). It’s an electric and insanely lively performance, and musically fuck all to do with Glam Metal, fusing instead British Punk sentiment and attitude with good old-fashioned Rock ‘n’ Roll, which is why people still talk about them now (Guns ‘N’ Roses debut album is a straight fusion of Hanoi Rocks and Aerosmith for a start).
I was on board from that point, despite having ditched anything else with a whiff of hairspray and eyeliner by that point. The trouble is by that then their discography had become as rare as rocking horse poo… I caught frontman Mike Monroe’s solo efforts in the early 90’s once, and a previous reunion happened a while ago, but for most of the last 40 years things have been quiet.
Cut to 2023. With another reunion on the horizon, the band have reduxed their 1982 classic, and have gone right back to the masters and remixed and remastered again from scratch. To be fair they’ve done a fab job, given the age of the source material which retains the frenetic energy, rawness and sheer unique sound of their songs whilst still sounding pretty darn rich on modern sound equipment. One in the eye for all the retro wannabees desperately trying to mix ancient and modern…
The challenge with all of Hanoi Rocks studio albums is that the relentless rate of writing and production (five studio albums in four years) meant that song writing consistency was always something of a challenge. So, although classic belters like ‘Motorvatin’ or ‘Oriental Beat’ blast things off fantastically here, a lot of the remainder of the album is a lot more stylistically experimental than the house sound they have subsequently cemented in the audience consciousness. That’s the band finding their feet true, and throwing all sorts of other influences that living in London at the turn of the 80’s would have brought in, with Monroe’s pure Punk vocal arrangements, Reggae back beats and rhythm riffs, Ska’s hybrid experimentalism (and saxophone) spliced with the more 70’s Hard Rock elements howling from Andy McCoy’s guitar all illustrates the band’s ethos of throw it all at the wall and see what sticks perfectly.
Having never actually managed to track down a copy of this record at the time, I was hearing it fresh when this re-issue landed and I am really struck by how well it has aged, regardless of the redux that’s been done in the studio. Having just last night watched Monroe playing a support slot with Black Star Riders, the same seems to apply to the frontman who does not seem to have aged much and retains the stamina of his much younger self to this day.
I’m hoping the reunion happens, but I’m also hoping they keep at it long enough to give the same treatment to their back catalogue. One down, four to go pretty please.
‘Oriental Beat (2022 remix)’ Official Audio
01. Oriental Beat
03. No Law Or Order
04. Teenangels Outsiders
05. Sweet Home Suburbia
06. MC Baby
07. Don’t Follow Me
09. Lightnin’ Bar Blues
10. Devil Woman
11. Fallen Star
Michael Monroe – Vocals, Saxophone, Harmonica
Andy Mccoy – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Nasty Suicide – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Sam Yaffa – Bass
Gyp Casino – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.