Completists and people who have never heard of Hanoi Rocks keep reading. Everyone else not curious please look away and yes I know there are complete vinyl box sets out there as well as several one-stop box sets but there’s always room for another Hanoi Rocks catch-all set.
What we have here is a very neat and tidy summary of the world’s bestust band and all their hard work in one clamshell box spread over five CD’s. For those well rounded individuals who always knew Hanoi Rocks were the greatst band to emerge from the beautiful 1980s their musical output might well have been flawed and it moght well have been scatterguned over the early to mid eighties but they never dipped below better than anything else you were listening to and they alway did things differently to other bands and they were such an underated bunch of reprobates to ever lay down music.
It always makes me laugh when people say it’s music for fans of Guns N Roses or they were a glam band because your average supermarket music-buying Guns fan or your die-hard glam fan wouldn’t have a clue. Call me a music snob but Hanoi was far more than a glam band and it was they who influenced Guns n Roses and a whole bunch of tripe that was to follow in the decade of decadence. Hanoi was a rock n roll band who were more influenced by punk and what went before them in the 70s – a perfect mix of The Clash and T Rex as well as adding equal measures of early Japan with Chuck Berry they had Jaggers swagger and the elegance of Bowie and weren’t afraid to mix it up from disc on and the magnificent bass drum count in of ‘Tragedy’ with the familiar Yaffa rumble it has never ever lost its flavour. A youthful Monroe leads this bunch of renegades through a magnificent album with all its imperfections and charming backing vocals it’s still the beating heart of a magnificent journey and an album I’ve never tired of.
The skank of ‘Village Girl’ to the teary ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’. The Harmonica honk of ‘Lost In The City’ is still a magnificent blast of youthful energy – the levels are everywhere the mix is chaotic but that was the appeal, too fast too young too fuckin beautiful. McCoy’s vocals howling over the top is brilliant and the energy that drives on this record. Who else was doing songs like ‘Cheyanne’? it’s beautiful from the bv’s to the drum pound and runs down of the Yaffa bassline to the strain on Monroe’s vocals its still one of the greatest debut albums ever. I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.
The recent Svart real mix of ‘Oriental Beat’ this one brings on mixed feelings for me now and I wish and hope the others get the same treatment if it’s available. ‘Motorvatin’ is still a banger which is why it’s still prominent in today’s Monroe set. ‘No Law Or Order’ is still one of the best songs Strummer never wrote. Ending with ‘Falling Star’ was and is a tear-jerker of the finest order.
I’m trying to imagine what it must be like to take the plunge and hear these albums as one package for the first time and not have to wait in real time over half a decade for them to unfold. My memory is foggy due to the fact it’s 40 years ago (holy shit, but I’m still here) ‘Self Destruction Blues’ was or shouldn’t have ever been but thank god it did. A million miles away from the debut production-wise and songwriting wise but hell, it still gives me chills playing these songs loudly and whilst I might not have played some of these songs for years when I do I still get that feeling of “hell, what a band, what a record” how weren’t these one of the biggest bands on the planet?
Disc four is obviously ‘Back To Mystery City’ and where they truly hit their stride – every one a banger from ‘Malibu Beach’ through ‘Tooting Bec Wreck’ to the beautiful ‘Until I Get You’ one of the finest soft songs for tough guys ever written. Razzles’ touch and understanding of what was needed on the loud ballad is exceptional. ‘Lick Summer Love’ is awesome and sets the tone for the spectacular ‘Beating Gets Faster’ deep dive classics I think the kids would call these album tracks that don’t get the oxygen they deserve.
This box set might be a time capsule and something awesome to discover but to hear ‘Mystery City again for the first time whilst pawing over the artwork would be priceless and some kid is going to discover that when they pick this up in a record store or online. Imagine hearing ‘All Those Wasted Years’ for the first time and wishing you were forty years older haha! what a beautiful thought ‘Taxi Driver’ Boom heads gone!
Maybe if this had had a sixth disc full of unheard demos or lost tracks it would sell like hotcakes to the Hanoi (de)generation looking for a fix. If you know a kid whos just discovering music and looking for a collection that will blow their mind then this might just be the clamshell all encompassing boxset you need. If for no other reason other than being a completist sucker I applaud Cherry Red for keeping the Hanoi heart beating – God bless em and God bless all those who sailed in the good ship Hanoi Rocks you truly were game changes for some of us punks looking for our band. Buy It!
Author: Dom Daley