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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Michael Monroe Band

Sensory Overdrive

Review by Larry Toering

Former Hanoi Rocks singer Michael Monroe has done it all, and that is why it sounds like it on his band's debut Sensory Overdrive. This album comes complete with saxophone and a killer band in tow. That band includes Sami Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks, New York Dolls) and Steve Conte (New York Dolls). The musicians have turned out a fantastic combo of  rock, punk and glam that is simply up there with the best of them. Every second of this CD jams with ferocity and a fair enough intelligence for this genre to attract a wide audience. This is a release that has charted high in some areas, showing it has all the staying power needed to establish it as a classic of its time.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Trick Of The Wrist

A wall of guitars comes crashing in and Monroe sings about turning negatives into positives and how it's all done. This is pure sass all the way, as he goes where the music takes him, and no time is wasted here, complete with a saxophone solo.

‘78

This is the single for which they shot a video, and it's a killer song with all the hooks and fills needed to make it such. Monroe plays with it all the way, even throwing some David Bowie references in for good measure. Things may have changed since '78, but the sentiment is the same, and you can take the boy out of it, but you can't take it out of the boy.

Got Blood

It’s all thrash here, yet the catchiness remains intact, as does the humor, so it's still comprehensively killer stuff. The guitars pick up a bit, accounting mostly for the thrash factor, more than anything else about it.

Superpowered Superfly

This is where an undeniable Cheap Trick influence kicks in, and a nice touch it is, but Monroe quickly makes you forget about that, as a classic of his own is born.

Modern Day Miracle

More catchy hooks keep this one in the same vein, if a bit on the heavier side, but the bouncy groove keeps it well grounded. There is great participation from everyone here, with solid drums and background vocals without which it wouldn’t be the same.

Bombs Away

This is another track with “hit” written all over it, and like a lot of these numbers, it makes a great live track. I love the chorus here, "shades of grey and glory days" are what it’s all about, and look out for the fantastic harmonica solo, backed by some heavy guitars. This is one of the album’s best tracks here, as well as one of the funniest vocals from Monroe, as he can be a crack up while he's at it all.

All You Need

This, too, has that catchiness about it that won't quit, and it even has a reasonable message behind it, showing how positive the rock and roll lifestyle can be if you turn it around and make it work for you. Monroe has been through it and proven can be done. Here the song pretty much remains the same, with different dynamics to help distinguish it from the rest, as each track perfectly contrasts each other this way while keeping the same weight.

Later Won’t Wait

This is a lovely change in the speed of things, as it goes from the upper register into a soft mid-section unlike anything else in the set. Tracks like this help round out the whole disc with a fair amount of variety without becoming sappy or bland. This is one of the better tunes because of such an effort to bring variety.

Gone, Baby Gone

This is a well put together tune with a lot of background vocals and a heavy chorus, and although it's not the best the disc has to offer, there is a certain charm to it that saves it. It demands it's place on Sensory Overdrive.

Center Of Your Heart

This picks right back up and back on course they go. It is yet another killer track. This is just more like the rest of the vibes found throughout this collection of post punk, glam laden rockers.

Debauchery As A Fine Art

There is not a step lost whatsoever as things wind down, or wind up, depending on how you look at it. It sure doesn't beg for the “stop” button, as all of these songs are of the “must repeat” order. On this closing track they make no mistake in proving that, as it goes back into the first track with little notice it's playing over again. The blending of the tracks is one of the best features about it, and it almost doubles the value, so the Deluxe Edition which has also been released, likely contains just that much more for the fan, justifying it for me, which isn't always the case.

 
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