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Y & T - 1987 Contagious

ALBUM: Contagious
LABEL: Geffen
SERIAL: 9 24142-2
YEAR: 1987
CD REISSUE: 2009, Universal (Japan), UICY-94056


LINEUP: Dave Meniketti - vocals, guitars * Joey Alves - guitars * Phil Kennemore - bass * Jimmy DeGrasso - drums

Additional Musicians: Steffen Presley - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Contagious * 02 L.A Rocks * 03 Temptation * 04 The Kid Goes Crazy * 05 Fight For Your Life * 06 Armed And Dangerous * 07 Rhythm Or Not * 08 Bodily Harm * 09 Eyes Of A Stranger * 10 I'll Cry For You


1987 represented a year of transition for Bay Area favourites Y&T. Much like the title of one of their 'Black Tiger' era songs 'Winds Of Change', the winds were certainly rustling through Camp Meniketti leading up to the release of this album. Firstly, long time record label A&M had dropped off the radar - the band now signed to Geffen. Also, long serving drummer Leonard Haze had departed the ranks, replaced by Jimmy De Grasso. Much like what David Coverdale and John Sykes had done to reinvent the fortunes of Whitesnake during 1987, Y&T's move into the similar commercial glam/hair metal arena did not eventuate with similar results. Diehard fans felt let down by the band's move to commercial party flavoured metal with loads of hairspray. Who could blame the band for wanting to change though? The chest beating days of 'Earthshaker', 'Black Tiger' and 'Meanstreak' were well past them. It was time for a change, new label and all. As the aforementioned Whitesnake were making millions for their new label Geffen, it was no surprise that Y&T were seen to exploit the same demographic much like their label mates. Unfortunately, the Geffen marketing and financial gurus probably didn't have long hair, black tee-shirts, ripped jeans and disposable incomes to spend on new LP's, CD's, tapes and gig tickets, and put Y&T way too deep in the push to sell 'Contagious'.

The Songs
Not that 'Contagious' is bad.. far from it. A very likeable album, but like many of the readers here, it's a far cry from the classic daze of 'Earthshaker', and for those with longer memories and even longer teeth, 'Contagious' is even more removed from the 70's era of the debut album and 'Struck Down'. Very cold gin indeed! What I do like about 'Contagious' is the very full sound courtesy of producer Kevin Beamish, and the additional keys from Sabu sideman Stefan Presley. The title track leads us off with all the tricks of the trade that Meniketti and co can muster. It seems funny to hear a Bay Area band giving kudos to the City of the Lost Angels with 'L.A Rocks'. They even chuck in a few Ratt flavoured riffs for good measure. Slowing up for the semi-ballad 'Temptation', Dave knows how to squeeze the juice out of a soulful song (anyone remember 'I Believe In You' from 'Earthshaker'?), and this one's no different. Van Halen's 'Hot For Teacher' is the obvious copy-cat reference point for 'The Kid Goes Crazy'. The 'Dave' comparisons to a certain Mr Roth are a bit cheesy don't you think? lol! 'Fight For Your Life' is a great burner, reminding me of their 'Earthshaker' era, whereas 'Armed And Dangerous' is a huge sounding rocker with big riffs, big vocals and a chorus to match. The guitars on 'Rhythm Or Not' sound very leadweight-ish, accentuating how powerful this track is. Sort of sounds like Autograph meets Van Halen. Can't go wrong there! 'Bodily Harm' is the track I like the least, sounding like a Sammy Hagar track with a heap of woah woahs.. which I didn't like. Much better is the hair metal strut of 'Eyes Of A Stranger', while the closer 'I'll Cry For You' is an instrumental in the vein of Gary Moore. Nice way to finish up.

In Summary
It was great getting re-acquainted with this album once again. When listened to under a set of high quality headphones, the songs here really come alive. Admittedly, there were a heap of cliches to be found, from the typical hair metal song titles, familiar riffs from the late 80's timeframe, but when it's done this well.. you could forgive them for such an admission. Looking back, this album was very much underrated for the time, and because Def Leppard, Whitesnake and other contenders were all the rage back in 1987, this one slipped the radar. The band disappeared until 1990 when they reappeared with another good disc 'Ten', featuring new guitarist Stef Burns, formerly of Pablo Cruise and The View/Vu, who had replaced the departed Joey Alves. The good news with Y&T is that they are still active (circa 2009), and that their classic albums from 1981 to 1985 have been re-released on CD during 2006 by Universal Group (in cahoots with A&M no doubt). If you have a few spare bucks handy, investing in Y&T's back catalogue might be a better investment than buying shares or even a house!!

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#1 | george_the_jack on April 03 2009 16:52:12
I've been looking for a review of this in GD.Very strong album indeed. Personaly I'm not putting this one beside 'earthshaker'.I think these two are totally different albums.
#2 | sabace on April 20 2009 13:56:54
their three best lps in my opinion are struckdown, earthshaker and endangered species!
#3 | dangerzone on December 05 2011 06:16:55
Great album, 'Eyes of a Stranger' and 'Fight For Your Life' are two of their best tracks.
#4 | super80boy on May 14 2016 23:34:49
This album consistently gets railed in reviews, a bit unfair IMHO. For the pop-metal-arena hard rocker commercial grab that is stands for, it's a decent outing. The competition in '87 was stiff, lots of big time contenders cranking out albums. The borrowed guitar riff that opens 'LA Rocks' helps, but it gets bogged down in a Van Halen formula and Roth-like vocal scretches. 'Armed And Dangerous', 'Fight For Your Life' and 'Eyes Of A Stranger' are rock solid standouts.

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