This album was given to me to review by Eddie Carter (AKA The Blog Overlord) as I was in a bit of a rut for what to review next. See, my problem is that my musical tastes tend to fall into two genres, both "heavy" and "metal" (So far, I've referenced Ted Bundy to a David Lee Roth solo album and now I'm bastardising an old Blues Brothers joke. Stranger things have happened). Occasionally, I'll surprise even myself and listen to something outside my comfort zone, but those occasions are rare. So he gave me this album in order to keep me on my toes. He also reckons it was the last DLR solo album before his critical and commercial decline and as such, may make for an interesting blog. Well, I hope I can do this.
First off, I'd like to get the obvious out of the way - Jason Becker. He plays guitar on this album and was the replacement for Steve Vai who had left after the last album (See below). Widely considered as an up-and-coming talent at the time. Shortly after being recruited to the band, he was diagnosed with thyrotrophic lateral sclerosis (AKA Lou Gehrig's Disease) which is a variant of Motor Neurone Disease. It's a nasty disease which as the name suggests, affects the body's motor-skills and can lead to eventual paralysis and death. There is a documentary about him which I've yet to see, but from what I hear, goes into a bit more detail about him..
In light of this, I'm going to keep the review as impartial as I can.
Aside from Jason Becker on guitar, we have some other line-up changes. On bass is a guy called Matt Bissonette who is the brother of drummer Greg and has played with the likes of Elton John, Joe Satriani and, erm, Ringo Starr. Turns out that Vai and Billy Sheehan left after the previous album 'Skyscraper' over 'controversies' surrounding it. Not sure what they were, probably 'creative differences' or something.
Production on this album was handled by Bob Rock, who is famous for his work with Motley Crue, The Cult and Metallica. It's a typical production for him, every note sounds clear, crisp and like it's had a fair bit of money thrown at it. Personally, I don't think he'll ever beat the production job on the Motley Crue album 'Dr Feelgood' (He made a glam band sound heavy as fuck, now THAT is talent). But it sounds ok on this album. Still a bit too 80's-esque and that's possibly why this album marked the decline in Roth's commercial stock. This was released in 1991 just as grunge was taking off.
In a way, it's a shame because this album isn't too bad, if I'm honest. It's well written, more mature song writing (Even though Roth still tries to get by on his 'rock and roll clown' persona, he's learned to reel it in. His voice still sucks though) and Becker is an excellent guitarist - not as virtuoso as Steve Vai but a far tighter rhythm guitarist.
The thing that first grabbed me is that a fair few of the songs reminded me of 'Pump'-era Aerosmith. This is because there appears to be a horn section on some of them. Indeed, there seems to be an Aerosmith vibe to the album as a whole. I swear they got royalties for "Last Call" which sounds like a rewrite of "Walk This Way"! Don't get me wrong, it's a good song but accusations of plagiarism shall ring out loud and clear! "Tell The Truth" is a smoky blues number, but hey, at least we don't have any cack-handed attempts at jazz! It conjured up an image of sitting in a bar, smoking a marlboro and drinking a whiskey. Then we've launched into "Baby's On Fire" with it's funk-like rhythms. The last two notable songs on this album are "It's Showtime!" and "Drop It In The Bucket". The former song is another of those shuffle-rock numbers that he's good at (Although it sounds a lot like "Hot For Teacher") but the latter is IMO the best song on the album. It's got a monstrous groove running through it and it's perfect for bringing the album to an end.
All in all, I'd have had a lot more respect for Roth if this album had have been the debut solo one. Still, he more than made up for it here. It may have been a case of "too little too late" but at least we have a decent slab of rock.
7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.
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