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Various Artists - 'Rock 'N' Roll Rebels & The Sunset Strip: Volume 1' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 22, 2015    
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One of the essential releases of 2015.

"We are all Sunset Strip certified bands, the unsung heroes of the greatest Rock scene that ever was. We are the last generation of Rock bands that ruled the L.A. music scene, we are the Hollywood underground. We are the Rock 'n' Roll Rebels Of The Sunset Strip!"

These are the words which open the thirteen page essay, 'Rock 'n' Roll Rebels, Sunset Strip Certified', in this superb four disc, thirty-six band, seventy-two song set which chronicles the "third wave" of outfits which graced the Rock 'n' Roll capital of the 1980s and early 1990s; Hollywood's Sunset Strip. Compiled by Stephen Craig of Eonian Records and JohnnyX who fronted two Strip regulars (The Wild and Johnny And The Jaguars), this is the aural and visual history of the bands who never got a chance, the bands whose music deserved more than to be shelved and forgotten in a sea of checked shirts and torn cardigans, the bands who believed that Rock should be fun, but not dumb. Each of the bands featured have contributed two songs, mainly demos, from their vaults, resulting in possibly the largest collection of Sunset Strip Rock ever assembled; it's one hell of a ride.

By this time, The Strip had already served up, amongst a whole host of others, Van Halen, Ratt and Mötley Crüe, before the likes of Guns 'N' Roses, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat proved The Strip really was the place to be if you loved quality Rock 'n' Roll. The conveyor belt didn't stop there though, Bang Tango, Lion, Great White and so on, all hitting the big time after triumphing on The Strip. The bands featured here were the new kids on the block, the bands ready, willing and as you'll hear, able to take up the mantle those legendary acts laid down. However circumstances didn't prove so kind; label politics and the media hunger for a "new scene" finding these talented, eclectic and hard-working bands discarded as yesterday's news, even before they had their day.

The variety on show is at first a shock, the long held belief that every Sunset Strip band was a Pretty Boy Floyd clone blown to smithereens. Don't get me wrong, if Party Rock is your thing, then you'll find plenty to get you going here and yet across the myriad of bands presented, you'll also discover a few offering up a Bluesy take on good time R&R and some darker edged tones more brooding than you'd imagine. Times were changing and amazingly the proof is here that The Strip bands realised and acted upon it before Seattle was known for more than Heart and Queensryche.

Obviously with the sheer volume of bands and songs contained on '...Sunset Strip', name-checking each and every one isn't possible, yet there's so much I can't ignore and that you'll definitely want to hear. Disc one kicks off with the superb 'Shootin' Daggers' from Rattlesnake Shake, the drama-filled intro immediately hooking your ear before a grinding, yet intricate riff hits the spot. The unusually named Alice Be Tokelas offer a darker edge on 'In The Morning', while The Wild take things in a Funky direction through the utterly irresistible 'Get Down 2 Night' and confident strut of 'Some Girls'. Long Gone will have you pulsating through a gyrating riff and punchy beat, 'Sticky Situation' offering up a sassy Aerosmith vibe while Bad Blood gleefully smash the dirtiness of Guns 'N' Roses into the hip shaking of The Cult - and I haven't even mentioned the muscular Slaughter vibe from Cyclone Sound or the 1970s KISS of Hap Hazzard.

Disc two contains just as many goodies, the captivating Great White meets Led Zeppelin via Quiet Riot of 'Little Devils' superbly realised by Charlotte, while the swirling, twirling 'She's So Psychedelic' takes a Hair Metal gum-chewer and spits it out in a Punk fashion. Bad Bones offer up one of the few slower moments, 'My Love Is For Real' amazingly landing somewhere between Mötley Crüe and Zeppelin with Geddy Lee on vocals! While Scratch go for a more upbeat vibe as the marvellously titled 'Smack Dab' heads into Skid Row meets Da Crüe territory. The only all-gal group on show are Hardly Dangerous who bring a huge slice of Blues to their catchy good times; the vocals from Tomi Rae Brown are an impressive, if acquired, taste but when she goes for the throat, there's no doubting her skills. It's a fair bet Sam Mann And Thee Apes spent some time listening to Van Halen, marrying a Funkier edge to Mann's Dave Lee Roth-like vocals, although Mad Reign deliver a surprisingly Psychedelic-infused serving of ballsy riffs.

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Impressively the standard doesn't dip, disc three showcasing Shake City who provide a perfect Arena sound through killer guitars and choruses which simply refuses to leave your mind. Heavier and more uncompromising are Blackboard Jungle, a beefed up Enuff Z'Nuff vibe in evidence, while 'Dogtown' from Taz finds an ultra-cool Halen riff slammed hard into a Funkier setting and sleazy vocals. That still leaves room for the attitude soaked and aggressive shimmy of Daddy Ray, the solo DL Roth razzle-dazzle of Children, the Poison with a boot up its ass of Shel Shoc and the band intrinsically linked to a certain Axl and Co., Hollywood Rose.

The final disc finds Deaf, Dumb And Blonde opening 'Heaven Tonight' as though it's 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' by Bon Jovi, but once the Bluesy riff kicks in, the personality of the band begins to really shine through, 'Down And Dirty' possessing a 'Doctor Feelgood' era Crüe vitality. Cold Shot (who Eonian have already released a full album by) impress with the energetic Slaughter-ish burst of 'Give Me What I Need', New Improved God adding a shot of Punk to a Hanoi Rocks Sleaze of Glam; although their 'Dead Rock Stars', which is a good song, is questionable in the way it handles the early death of some of music's prematurely lost talents. Agent Zero surprise with a darkly imagined take on Sleaze, Rough Justice add a serious grind of guitars that almost brings Metal into their catchy choruses, while Byte The Bullet inject a huge shot of urgency and passion into their fiery fare.

The work that has gone into this superb set really is plain to see, the booklet not only containing the aforementioned essay, but also some great pictures and a profile of each outfit detailing the background on the band, members, years they existed, song-writing influences and their musical style; basically it's a mini-encyclopaedia of the latter day Sunset Strip bands. Yes, there's no denying that some of the tracks sound like the demos they obviously are, yet that's easy to forgive when the otherwise unheard bands and songs are simply this good.

First and foremost this release deserves your attention because of the quality of the music it contains, but add in the packaging, detail and obvious passion that's gone into creating 'Rock 'N' Roll Rebels And The Sunset Strip' and I've no reservations in declaring it one of the essential releases of 2015.

Steven Reid

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