|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Tim Bushong, Jamie Rowe & Mick Rowe|
|Record Label: Select||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2004||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 37:53|
The last time we heard from "The Handsome Mick Rowe" was the doom-influenced metal of Goliath on its foreboding 2001 full length debut The Gate. Rowe is back, however, but in an entirely different capacity with his new band Nineteen88. Taking a nostalgic look back at the eighties but from a "metal perspective", Nineteen88 brings a combination of stomp and tromp AC/DC style hard rockers and commercial melodic metal numbers on its full length debut The Great American Rock And Roll Spectacle. Showcasing song title such as "Pedal To The Metal, "Play Your Guitar" and "The Metal Hokey", you cannot help but think that Nineteen88, a band whose motto is AC/DC meets pro wrestling and Nascar in a smash pile up of hard rock thunder, does not take itself all THAT seriously. Nevertheless, a case can be made that Mick and company mean serious business reflected in a tight sounding performance from the band combining a profusion of catchy hook filled songwriting with an equal amount of eighties influenced sound, energy and attitude.
Mick sings at his gravelly and guttural best in addition to filling in on bass and decorating each track with just the right amount of aggressive and edgy lead guitar work. Bobby "Fingers" Beamon rounds out the mix on guitar, while Max "Thunder" Alpha helps out on bass. Nate "Stix" Butler is right on target with his precise work on drums.
Being that The Great... is an independent release, I was expecting it to feature a thin and muddy sounding if not demo-like production job. However, such is NOT the case in that the album highlights very solid production values in which a massive wall of rhythm guitar perfectly accentuates a thick and full sounding low end. Both the lead guitar and bass are allowed to evenly rise above the instrumentation.
It is worth pointing out that, while all the members of Nineteen88 are Christians, Nineteen88 is not a Christian band and that The Great... is not a Christian project. That being said, the lyrical content here does touch upon the faith of the bands members on tracks such as "Highway Of Rock & Roll" and "Where Did the 80's Go?". Otherwise, the albums lyrics, while not exactly profound, are clean, positive and Christian friendly.
"Welcome To The Show" opens the album to a cheering audience and an individual with a British accent introducing Nineteen88 in concert:
Are you ready?
From the stereo to your ears
The rock you need
As the noise of the audience fades out, "Big Rawk" cuts in to a slicing guitar riff that aggressively impels it to a chorus featuring interplay between Mick's guttural vocal delivery and catchy vocal harmonies exclaiming "Whoa!". Several seconds of biting lead guitar work carries the song through its instrumental passage and the chorus that follows.
Rowe's gritty voice trades off with a sledgehammer-heavy riff during the first verse to "Pedal To The Metal" before the rhythm guitar establishes itself for the second. Repeating the same pattern during its third and fourth verse, "Pedal..." moves on to a non-stop hook filled chorus carried by the bands trademark energy. A punchy bass line opens an instrumental break culminating in a fiery guitar solo. "Pedal To The Metal" celebrates the "biker lifestyle":
I...gotta ride a bike again
Do I take my Mongoose or your Schwinn?
You take what's good for you,
I'll take what's good for me.
Ride along on the highway
From 65 south
Exit 10 to Verizon
With bugs in my mouth
As previously stated, the lyrics here, while harmless, are not exactly profound.
After vocal harmonies open the metal anthem "Play Your Guitar", a predominate combination of rhythm guitar and muscular bass lines drives its verse portions. Brother Jamie "not as handsome" Rowe plays a role in the backing vocals as the song reaches a good catchy chorus. Several seconds of razor sharp lead guitar work aligns itself with the songs take no prisoner guitar driven aura.
"Highway Of Rock & Roll" starts to a revving engine before advancing through its first and second verse to a heavy duty bass line as a wall of rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix. Picking up in pace for its third and fourth verse, the song attains a high energy chorus highlighted by Mick's scratchy vocal delivery. Several seconds of blistering lead guitar work helps put the song over the top. On "Highway Of Rock & Roll" Mick makes a statement of faith:
Lift You up
Won't take too long
A simple verse
In a three chord song
I need to say
My Rock is here to stay
I'm on the highway
Lord, You washed my dirty soul
The overbearing "The Metal Hokey", the albums only track failing to make the grade, is appropriately named. Opening to narration carried over a choppy rhythm guitar, "The Metal Hokey" comes across cheesy as it precedes in a repetitious manner in giving prominence to boring and cliché based lyrics:
Put your fists in the air
You wave 'em side to side 'cause you just don't care
You do the metal hokey and you turn your life around
You love the metal sound
The overall feel I get is that the song is tremendously heavy handed and WAY overdone (perhaps purposely so) while failing to highlight even the remotest of catchy melodies. Next.
Beginning to several seconds of backward masking, a driving riff propels "Rock All Day" forward until vocal harmonies lead the way to a punchy chorus delivered at an upbeat tempo. A nice extended instrumental section showcases a combination of choppy rhythm guitar and armor piercing lead guitar work. On "Rock All Day" Mick pays tribune to his time spent in Goliath:
Well it's Saturday night...yeah
It's time for the show
I will rock you like a hurricane
The Handsome Mick Rowe
The humorous spoken word "Whatever" features a tongue and cheek dialogue between a father and his rebellious teenage daughter that serves as the perfect interlude to "Hard Rock Girls".
"Hard Rock Girls" embarks to a crisp sounding rhythm guitar that steadily takes it to a commercial flavored chorus with a good catchy hook. A very well done thirty second instrumental passage highlights Mick's melodic based lead guitar work.
Several seconds of open air rhythm guitar introduces "Rock And Roll" before the rhythm section duals with the rhythm guitar during its first verse. Once the rhythm guitar carries the song through the second, it drives an anthem-like chorus underlined by smooth sounding vocal harmonies. The lyrics to "Rock And Roll" are simple but effective in their approach:
The rock we play is rudimentary
But our life is elementary
Bust out the black shirt
Strap on the jewelry
Takin' back the streets in the name of... rock and roll
"Where Did The 80's Go?" is the most nostalgic of the albums tunes. The song advances at a slower more mid-tempo pace during its first verse as Mick reminisces about the decade in question:
The Rubik's Cube
Takes all my time
My fashion sense
Is years behind
A mullet too
No Motley Crue
A touch of vocal harmonies backs a good melodic based chorus before the band takes a tongue and cheek approach to the lyrics written by some of the Christian metal bands at the time:
Ya need the Father, Son
The Holy Ghost
Rock with the best
Or burn like toast
The verse that follows even features a very well done impersonation of Mike Lee:
Listen to me (or Barren Cross' Mike Lee)...
Mick tops things off with over thirty seconds of the albums best lead guitar work.
After vocal harmonies introduce the melodic hard rocker "U.S.A.", Mick delivers his most even vocal performance of the album as the song progresses through its first verse. The vocal harmonies return to reinforce a smooth sounding chorus with a strong radio friendly hook. I like how several seconds of exquisite lead guitar work gradually blends with more of the bands trademark vocal harmonies. On "U.S.A." Nineteen88 pays tribune to the U.S. armed forces serving at home and abroad:
To keep our shores
From hometown wars
We soldiers must obey
Stick to the plan
Protect our land
And defeat the enemy
All in all, The Great American Rock And Roll Spectacle adds up to a very fine hard rocking debut from "The Handsome Mick Rowe" and company. Quite consistent from a musical standpoint, the album showcases an abundance of the bands upbeat guitar driven energy and a rock solid production job. I look forward to hearing more from these guys in the future.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Welcome To The Show" (:26), "Big Rawk" (3:25), "Pedal To The Metal" (3:26), "Play Your Guitar" (3:39), "Highway Of Rock & Roll" (3:27), "The Metal Pokey" (3:35), "Rock All Day" (3:38), "Whatever" (:55), "Hard Rock Girls" (3:28), "Rock And Roll" (4:04), "Where Did The 80’s Go?" (3:22), "U.S.A." (4:25)
"The Handsome" Mick Rowe – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Bass
Bobby “Fingers” Beamon – Guitar
Max “Thunder” Alpha – Bass
Nate “Stix” Butler – Drums
Tim Bushong & Aaron Bushong - Drums