4 out of 5 Stars!
Hanoi Rocks’s fourth studio album finally earned the Finnish band some much needed worldwide recognition, thanks to not only a collection of powerful and memorable tracks, but also the production magic from the team of Mott The Hoople alumni Overend Watts and Dale “Buffin” Griffin, who aided the band in perfecting its rather unique mix of glammy, trashy, and punky styles.
Moreover, the album even included Hoople’s Morgan Fisher as guest keyboardist, his piano tinkling away in the background on several tracks, which lent an almost Mott party atmosphere to the band’s New York Dolls form of sassy rebelliousness, so things were looking and sounding quite impressive, a giant step forward from the band’s previous albums where the production had often lacked and the tinsel had been missing.
As to the material, the songwriting had also taken a major uphill leap, with the band recording one of its most consistent sets and the musicians (vocalist Mike Monroe, guitarists Andy McCoy and Jan “Nasty Suicide” Stenfors, bassist Sam Yaffa, and drummer Razzle) performing their rockin’ and rollin’ hearts out. Indeed, Back to Mystery City includes some of the group’s catchiest material (and some future concert favorites), including “Malibu Beach Nightmare,” “Mental Beat,” “Sailing Down the Tears,” “Ice Cream Summer,” “Tooting Bec Wreck,” “Until I Get You,” and the fantastic title track that closes out the collection.
Now, with the blueprint for world domination being set into motion with this splendid platter, it was only the group’s following release, Two Steps From The Move, that would surpass the impact of this album and bring Hanoi Rocks to the very brink of hard-fought success and…
Damn it, senseless tragedy struck in the form of Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil, who completely destroyed the band’s escalating momentum with his fatal drunk driving escapades.
So to those unfamiliar with this team of Finnish punky glamsters, Back to Mystery City would make a great starting point when delving into the band’s catalogue of material.
And to drummer Razzle…RIP.