4.5 out of 5 Stars!
How I wish things had gone differently for Tygers of Pan Tang, a band with such great promise…
The group emerged in time for the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” period in the U.K., and after one “okay” album in 1980, line-up changes occurred, yet Tygers bounced back better than ever with Spellbound, an outstanding album featuring a brand new vocalist named Jon Deverill and, better still, an unknown, young guitar-hero by the name of John Sykes.
Spellbound, frankly, was nothing short of a metal classic from the NWOBHM era, making Tygers of Pan Tang the “darlings” of Kerrang! Magazine, and an album I still savor (and crank to 10) on a regular basis. Tracks such as “Gangland,” “Tyger Bay,” “Hellbound,” “The Story So Far,” “Take It,” and beautiful semi-ballad and semi-barnstormer “Mirror” simply BLAZE with Sykes’s guitar leads and with Deverill’s smashing vocals shining through, which I expected would catapult the band to international fame.
After this album, however, the same line-up recorded Crazy Nights (more decent material, but unfortunately, a “dead” production quality that did nothing for the songs). And then, Sykes got snatched up by Thin Lizzy and, truth be told, the event crippled Tygers beyond saving. The band quickly succumbed to greedy record company pressure and completely wimped out, losing almost all its metal edge for the next over-produced and lame album The Cage, becoming a band I hardly recognized and quickly abandoned. So much for the NWOBHM movement, at least when it came to Tygers.
Sykes, of course, went on to fame with Thin Lizzy, then Whitesnake and Blue Murder, but Tygers continued on (indeed, still exists) with, frankly, only the two Sykes-featured albums giving them anything more than a footnote in history books. A shame.
Regardless, Spellbound is simply KILLER and shows more than a hint of “what might have been” for the band.