10. AEROSMITH – Music From Another Dimension
SURE, this is a patchy effort from a great band, torn aparty by the ravages of reality TV. But there are sporadic attempts here to recapture the ragged glory of the 1970s rather than the commercial sheen of the eighties and nineties. That, in itself, deserves kudos. Sure, too many ballads again. But “Street Jesus”? Patented Aerosmith slither. They may or may not be back … but at least they’re still around.
9. JOHN CORABI – Unplugged
BACK in the day, we wouldn’t have dreamed of including acoustic studio albums and re-recordings (see #10) in a chart like this. But times have changed. Corabi has a unique voice and has amassed a collection of ragamuffin metal ditties over his time in The Scream, Motley Crue and Union. They are well presented here in a format that should have you ferreting through in-debt, rat-infested stores for the original recordings.
8. TRIXTER – New Audio Machine
WITH all the eighties bands who released new stuff this year, who’d have thought that Trixter would come up with the gem? There is no substitute for hard work and good songwriting and that’s how they’ve accomplished something full of quality here. “Live For The Day” is one of my five or six songs of the year and even the attempt at modern rock, “Walk With A Stranger” (which sounds like Alien Ant Farm’s version of “Boys Of Summer”) ain’t THAT bad.
7. THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes
SOME expected Justin Hawkins to tone down the costume changes and pelvic thrusts when he reunited with brother for Hot Cakes. Not a chance. When you open an album with “Baby I was a loser, several years on the dole/An English man with a very high voice, playing rock’n’roll’, you know you’re in for a ride. “Concrete” and “With A Woman” are gems, “Street Spirit” rocks like a metallic mutha.
6. FRANK HANNON – Six String Soldiers
FRANK Hannon should be considered one of the finest guitarists to come out of the late eighties metal scene. He seems determined to prove his worth at this late stage and absolutely shreds on this solo project album, with guest vocalists. “Lipstick, Smoke & Gasoline” with David Meniketti is close to the most visceral song of the year while “Touch The Ground” is as good a travelling anthem as has been recorded since Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page”.
5. UFO – Seven Deadly
NOW we are entering the territory of albums that we play repeatedly here at Hot Metal HQ – without listening to anything else in between. Kicking off with the crunch of “Fight Night”, this is hard rock from consumate professionals who know what works and what doesn’t. Listen to “Angel Station” and wonder at the versatility and pathos. Don’t say “should have been bigger” – just lay back with the headphones on. This is superior stuff.
4. KISS – Monster
AS former members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss brought out biographies, KISS needed to do something special to make fans forget the past. They did. The painted ones were never going to bring out a messy punk record but within the bounds of Paul Stanley-produced stadum rock, they succeed brilliantly. Aside from the first single, my favourite’s “Take Me Down Below” owing to my dirty mind. I don’t particularly like Tommy Thayer adopting Frehley’s character lyrically in “Out Of This World”, though.
3. CRAZY LIXX – Riot Avenue
THE first time I head these Swedes I almost wet myself. To say that that youngsters can’t play glam metal convincingly, that it’s just imitation, is to have not heard this record. Crazy Lixx’ earlier efforts were somewhat patchy but Riot Avenue hits you with five heavy one-two punches and a jab at the end for good measure. “Fire It Up” followed by “Downtown”? Forget it, all bets are off. The latter even has a clever twist in the story told, proof again that Scandinavians are better at irony in English than most of us.
2. BONAFIDE – Ultimate Rebel
THERE was damn hard to separate #3 and #2 and in the end I had to ask myself: do I like glam metal or blues-based hard rock more? The latter ended a filthy nose in front. Bonafide are our band of the year. After offerings which were a little too uneven to challenge the likes of Airbourne, the Swedes (them again) have hit the ball out of the freakin’ park with Ultimate Rebel. This is goosebump stuff, pumping, throbbing riffs and irresistable choruses. Just fantastic.
1. VAN HALEN – A Different Kind Of Truth
THERE have been plenty of disappointments this year – Slash, Dokken, Cold Chisel, Great White etc – but anyone who thinks this is one of them needs their head read. Sure, “Tattoo” sounded like an out-take from a DLR solo album but this record is so life-affirmingly wonderful even it sounds like a gem in the context of the rest of the material. Someone asked if it was the best comeback in rock’n’roll history and I can’t think of a better one. Dave’s cunning lingual skills and Eddie’s contortionist sonic masterbatory playing – it’s a record that will keep you coming. The essence of life lies in the binary code of these digital files – one of my favourite albums of all time.
– STEVE MASCORD See last year’s list