The fourth and final volume in the Soft Metal series involved a label change – from Stylus Music to Dover. Television advertising continued and the front cover was gold lettering on a red velvet background. “18 Rock Classics” and the lucky featuring artists were Queen, David Lee Roth, Ozzy Osbourne, Quireboys, Poison, Alannah Myles, Pat Benatar.
Pomp and circumstance are to the fore on the opening track, Queen’s Breakthru. It’s taken many years for me to appreciate its searing energy. Next comes David Lee Roth’s Just Like Paradise, an apt tune for the end of summer with its memorable rock climbing video. And for Gary Moore, his imperial era was the Wild Frontier phase, the politically-charged title track still burning fiercely. “. . . before the soldiers came.” Now for Magnum’s reflective Days Of No Trust – “revolution is here” – a fond memory from Cheers pub in Charles Street. Next comes Ozzy, returning to kill the light, on the edgy Bark At The Moon. Heidi Kara misses the days of “Spandex, Aqua Net, big hair, power ballads, MTV . . . when music was actually fun.” A sentiment that works perfectly on Slaughter’s rolling Up All Night, a rocking anthem that’s the ideal tonic to start off a weekend of fun times.
There’s definitely a wider net cast by the compilers on this set. While there are a few familiar tracks (Poison – Your Mama Don’t Dance, Alannah Myles – Black Velvet), the presence of Winger’s Miles Away is most welcome, an epic yet almost morose hair metal ballad. It was also the era when the likes of The Quireboys and Thunder featured on a couple of Now albums. In this instance, both are here but with different songs. The former’s There She Goes Again is a non-nonsense heads-down rocker while Thunder works wonder on Gimme Some Lovin’, a storming take on the Spencer Davis Band classic. To the land of Oz and 1927. That’s When I Think Of You is a driving rock tune that’s ideal for a road trip. File under well kept secret. If you dig, check out my mix On The Riot Trail.
Elsewhere we get Pat Benatar and All Fired Up, nominated for a Grammy and the lead single from Wide Awake in Dreamland. It rocks much harder than her earlier work and is now seen as a perfect pick me up tune. Another cover is WASP’s I Don’t Need No Doctor, a competent reworking of the Ashford & Simpson number. And then Black Sabbath’s Devil And Daughter which saw Cozy Powell join the band. Conceptually, the song’s lyrics have predominantly occult and Satanic elements. It’s followed by the textbook power ballad sound of Vixen and Love Is A Killer, possibly one of the finest examples of the genre. Beauty and rage, the other side of 1990. In contrast, we go thrash with Anthrax and their version of Joe Jackson’s Got The Time. Not the Hot Press journalist. Taken from the too-long-for-one-LP Persistence Of Time. Curiously we end with an album track, Judas Priest’s predatory Night Crawler. Rob Halford’s finale. “You know he’s coming back.”
Gary Moore – Wild Frontier
Vixen – Love Is A Killer
Lest we forget
Magnum – Days Of No Trust