4.5 out of 5 Stars!
To me, when New York Dolls disbanded after only two albums, the band left a musical vacuum of “glam meets punk.” Thankfully, Finland’s Hanoi Rocks finally filled that vacuum when it appeared on the scene in the early ’80s. But unfortunately, Hanoi Rocks also got lumped in with all the other “hair bands” such as Poison, Cinderella, Ratt, and any other one of the zillions of groups that emerged with truckloads of Aqua Net in tow.
But Hanoi Rocks was so much more, especially since the group possessed that raw sound and punk attitude other “hair bands” sorely lacked. I loved them, and especially Two Steps From the Move, the band’s Bob Ezrin-produced fifth studio album, which showed the group at its rowdy, rollicking, and raucous peak, on the verge of worldwide fame, with the songwriting and performances never better.
A slamming cover of CCR’s “Up Around the Bend” opens up the album, probably the best version of the song I’ve ever heard recorded. And from there, things just get even better with the loud and rebellious “High School,” which leads into the punky and pouting “I Can’t Get It,” both tracks easily matching muscle with any of the band’s previous classics. “Underwater World,” “Futurama,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” and “Boiler (Me Boiler ‘n’ Me)” all deliver pounding and killer riffs, some of Andy McCoy’s most inspired songwriting (with a little help on several tracks from Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter), while “Cutting Corners” and “Million Miles Away” both offer something a bit different, with Mike Monroe’s blazing sax included. Moreover, the band delivers a superior version of McCoy’s “Don’t You Ever Leave Me,” making mincemeat of the original (which appeared on the band’s debut album as “Don’t Never Leave Me”). Yes, Two Steps From the Move featured a collection of amazing tracks, a nearly perfect album from a band that finally seemed to have its act together and luck on its side.
But sadly, the ever-growing momentum ended shockingly and tragically when drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley was killed in an automobile driven by Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, and Hanoi Rocks had to cancel the remainder of its first U.S. tour supporting the album and fell apart soon afterward. Although the band eventually reemerged in 2001 with a revised line-up to release three enjoyable albums in the following years, the “big moment” for Hanoi Rocks had passed, and this was the album that nearly catapulted the band to the top of the charts. Glam-Punk at its best!