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Self Destruction Blues

Hanoi Rocks

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Album Review

Hanoi Rocks resolutely break no bounds on the band's third studio effort, Self Destruction Blues, but then again, anyone expecting that was in the wrong place; those expecting obvious nods to the likes of Ziggy-era Bowie, Mott the Hoople, and the like, though, would be in heaven. Michael Monroe's confident singing, if nowhere near as wonderfully unhinged as the Scandinavian hard rock monsters of the '90s, does the job with the right amount of implied strut and sleaze; if anything, the bizarrely sweet backing vocals on many songs seem to undercut what he's trying to do. Andy McCoy and Nasty Suicide do their expected riff-and-roll, Sam Yaffa doesn't disgrace himself on bass, and the end result is entertaining — if not mind-blowing — fun. The genre exercise of the title track works better than some might have thought, with Monroe blowing on his harmonica in prime Chicago electric blues style and getting a reasonable wail going (the production on the track intentionally sounds old, to boot). The best moments, though, come from the unexpected moments — check the low-key verses on "Café Avenue," with Monroe quietly purring tales of decadence and surviving on the streets, or the giddy pop nuttiness of "Desperados," one of the least threatening, but still fun, rough-guy songs ever. "Kill City" finds drummer Gyp Casino — who was replaced by Razzle after recording and prior to the album's release — pulling off a bit of introductory percussion that might not be out of place on a Santana record. However, the of-the-time synth line on "Whispers in the Dark" should be taken out and shot.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Helsinki, Finland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Finland's major export to the world of heavy metal, Hanoi Rocks, drew much of their sound and inspiration from '70s glam rock and were thought by some to have fused the two styles more successfully than similar acts. Founded in 1980, their debut album, Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks, was released in 1981, and the band soon went to London to promote themselves and record Oriental Beat. They signed to CBS in 1983 and began to spread their name in Britain; their...
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