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Icon - 1989 Right Between The Eyes



ARTIST: Icon
ALBUM: Right Between The Eyes
LABEL: Megaforce
SERIAL: 7 82010-2
YEAR: 1989
CD REISSUE: 2008, Wounded Bird, WOU-8201

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Jerry Harrison - vocals * Dan Wexler - guitars, synthesizers * Drew Bollmann - guitars * Tracy Wallach - bass, vocals * Pat Dixon - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Right Between The Eyes * 02 Two For The Road * 03 Taking My Breath Away * 04 A Far Cry * 05 In Your Eyes * 06 Holy Mans War * 07 Bad Times * 08 Double Life * 09 Forever Young * 10 Running Under Fire * 11 Peace And Love


Background
Icon of course are one of the great examples of a band who should have gone all the way but never did. Their first two classic albums 'Icon' and 'Night Of The Crime' remain popular to this day, and that Capitol dropped them was a farce, but a typical scenario during the 80's, with many a tremendous act consigned to nothing more than a single album or two if they were lucky. Icon soldiered on following their dropping, in the process losing vocalist Stephen Clifford and guitarist John Aquilino. Recruiting Harrison and Bollmann, Icon issued a cassette only recording 'A More Perfect Union' in 1987, a set which helped them gain a deal with Megaforce, a subsidiary of Atlantic, home to many a thrash act in the late 80's. The resulting album differed greatly from the rampaging metal of the debut and the AOR tinged follow up, the band leaning towards a predictable formularised late 80's hard rock sound that almost left them without an identity. That's not to say this album is a flop, only the real Icon went 'Missing'.


The Songs
With Wexler's guitar still at the helm you can still find elements of Icon's once explosive sound, but with the band sporting perms, cowboy boots and leather vests it was obvious the band was trying to fit into the same scene as every hard rock band trying to make the big time. The title track is the most traditional sounding Icon track on offer, with a huge chorus and some gritty riffing. I could envision this on the debut, that's how powerful this one is. Harrison appears to be another David Coverdale imitator, which is worthy praise. Things get raunchy with the ultra melodic hook of 'Two For The Road', a cross between AOR and metal, with shades of Danger Danger's debut. Alice Cooper adds backing vocals, the first of his two contributions. 'Taking My Breath Away' is another shot at Whitesnake's throne, again the resulting chorus is superb, if somewhat generic, the type everyone was plundering in 1989, the big mass chorus in effect. The keyboard work of 'A Far Cry/A.Y.U.' recalls the 'Night Of The Crime' epic and is a fine piece of heavy AOR. 'In Your Eyes' might have been a hit for Winger or Warrant with its breezy, charming tone, perfectly acceptable keyboard laced hard rock. Things get serious on 'Holy Man's War', with Alice Cooper sharing lead vocals, although I can't get past the standard 80's hard rock sound, which is reminiscent of so many bands, listing them would take a review itself. 'Bad Times' could be Hurricane off their debut, by this point I'm almost begging for a 'On Your Feet' or 'Rock On Through The Night' such is the growing blandness of the music. 'Double Life' is second rate rock, with some awkward organ work and near Southern riffs. 'Forever Young' is the introspective ballad, where the band gets teary eyed, the song itself a perfect fit for a soundtrack to an 80's flick of any genre, the theme of hope evident in a moving vocal from Harrsion. Things pick up heaviness wise with 'Running Under Fire', but the heavy metal fire just isn't there to recommend it. The brief instrumental 'Peace And Love' adds nothing to precedings, just a riff overlapped by a guitar solo.


In Summary
A mixed bag, with the albums first half easily dominating the latter stages. Icon persevered for a few tours following the albums release but eventually split in 1990. Given the glut of bands treading the same ground Icon never stood much of a chance despite their quality. They were simply doing what they had to do to survive in the cut throat industry, but their best work came with their debut which to most is a true indication of what Icon stood for. They never convince me during 'Straight Between The Eyes' that this is their true calling. Worth a listen however, there was much worse fare recorded in 1989 that succeeded where Icon should have prevailed instead.


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Comments
#1 | jeffrey343 on January 01 1970 01:00:00
I got this about two months ago to complete my Icon collection (aside from 'A More Perfect Union'). The jury is still out for me on this one - it's not bad, but I don't feel the need to play it repeatedly as I do other CDs I've gotten recently. I still prefer 'Night Of The Crime' among the three main Icon releases.
#2 | reyno-roxx on June 24 2008 10:01:14
Kudos to Eddie Trunk for this album seeing the light of day. He was a major influence in the Megaforce deal. I remember him touting the 'A More Perfect Union' tape around us likeminded journos on a trip over to the UK around the time of Donington. I think he was over in the UK with Anthrax. He was a huge Icon fan.
#3 | jeffduran on June 24 2008 16:40:03
'A More Perfect Union' is the only pure AOR recording by ICON. A decent release if you can find it. I believe if you get it on cd it's a bootleg.
#4 | dangerzone on June 25 2008 01:22:02
I actually prefer this to the 'More Perfect Union' set. Nothing can compare to Icon's debut however, one of the best US metal albums of the decade.
#5 | Danielovich on April 06 2010 12:53:45
Their worst LP, period. Listened once, took it apart from my collection. Doesn't hold a candle to the masterpice 'Night of the crime'.
#6 | rkbluez on March 12 2012 10:13:55
Love their first album and I really like this one also because it has a lot of heavier stuff like the first album did...don't get me wrong 'Night Of The Crime' is a great album but at the time I was a little disappointment with it's more AOR approach...always liked Icon when they flat out rocked.
#7 | gdazegod on September 03 2013 04:29:57
The 1997 reissue CD of 'A More Perfect Union' sits in my collection. Worth a write up, if only to complete the Icon story.
#8 | Carlos Ramirez on September 04 2014 18:57:39
This was such a disappointing album. NOTC is a classic; RBTE proved that Icon should have brought in songwriter Bob Halligan, Jr. back again to help them put material together.
 
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