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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Hanoi Rocks - 1984 Two Steps From The Move
Hanoi Rocks - 1984 Two Steps From The Move

ARTIST: Hanoi Rocks
ALBUM: Two Steps From The Move
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 1990, Epic, EK 39614 * 2006, BGO Records (UK), BGOCD722 (bonus tracks, remastered)


LINEUP: Andy McCoy - lead guitar, vocals * Mike Monroe - lead vocals, saxophone * Razzle - drums, vocals * Nasty Suicide - guitar, vocals * Sam Yaffa - bass, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Up Around The Bend * 02 High School * 03 I Can't Get It * 04 Underwater World * 05 Don't You Ever Leave Me * 06 Million Miles Away * 07 Boulevard Of Broken Dreams * 08 Boiler (Me Boiler 'n' Me) * 09 Futurama * 10 Cutting Corners

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' - Charles Dickens.

Myth, unfilled potential, hell raisers, darlings of the press and heartbreak. Hanoi Rocks could have been one of the reasons why Samuel Johnson in 1755 put together one of the earliest dictionaries, knowing the need to try to describe these vagabonds years later. Originally out of Finland, although for this their fourth and the one before, 'Back To Mystery City', they had enlisted, maybe apprehended might be a better word, Englishman, Nicholas Dingley better known as Razzle, for their parting shot at the end of the first sojourn. Of course, after this recording they parted ways, essentially due to the passing of Razzle from a car accident, (I assume we all are aware of the circumstances). Reading extracts of Andy McCoy's autobiography, 'Sheriff McCoy: Outlaw Legend of Hanoi Rocks' it was one rollercoaster of a ride. It's amazing they kept it together for so long. When it worked for Hanoi Rocks it could be amazing and they managed to piece together a number of individual masterpieces, for instance from the earlier mentioned 'Back To Mystery City' you had the AOR inspired 'Until I Get You' to the more recent 3 minutes of pure perfection being 'A Day Late, A Dollar Short' from 'Twelve Shots On The Rocks', even Mick Monroe's 'Man With No Eyes' from his solo album 'Not Fakin' It'. However they could also be guilty of getting it wrong, like a couple of tracks from this album, plus the less successful Jerusalem Slim project with Monroe plus McCoy with The Cherry Bombz, anyone for the Loverboy cover 'Hot Girls In Love?' Yep thought not. I was 15 years old when this was released and I spent a long time listening to this album, yes it was probably due to lack of other material, I was still building up my collection, on limited funds (still limited now, but inflation has taken this limit higher) and that is one reason why these tunes have remained in my memory, which in this case I am grateful for. Ok, so that's enough of an introduction for this band, before it turns into a University degree dissertation. Let's concentrate on the songs.

The Songs
What's the last album you brought that opens with a cover? (Me, well it's the Glass Hammer album 'Culture Of Ascent', which starts with the Yes song 'South Side Of The Sky'), here we have the classic Credence Clearwater Revival's 'Up Around The Bend'. This surprisingly works to Hanoi's advantage and the song suits the group's persona. It was the first time the group hit the lower reaches of the singles chart, linked with a suitably party atmosphere video to accompany its loose rock feel. With the re-issue on CD, no longer do I have to wait for the familiar jump that was always on my vinyl copy, although it's minus the comic book which was part of the first issue of the album, I still have mine!

Next up, being 'High School' and 'I Can't Get It' are a typical display of Hanoi Rocks, with the guitar and bass slung down and played at the knees. Monroe's vocals always seem to be at breaking point with the songs likely to disintegrate as they get to bordering on falling down, but are saved (on purpose) from the edge with crucially life saving melodies at the right time. It's perfect relaxed carnage.

Hanoi, can be totally serious at times, like one their best songs ever in 'Underwater World'. The song and chorus seem so separate, one catchy melodic chorus, with the classic line 'Welcome to the Jungle' (wonder who would be uttering those words in years to come?). It's a formidable track, haunting saxophone which only on recent listen reminds me of The Specials! Love to see this used on the soundtrack for the Bioshock 2 game (which is the latest blockbuster video game set in an underwater world, for those readers who didn't know and obviously already grown up!), that would have been interesting.

While they can show the complexity of songwriting, they would then just switch tack and offer up 'Don't You Ever Leave Me', originally taken from their debut 'Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks', this is an easy going heartbreaking tune that has more of a connection to 60's bands. They even jump ship to AOR with the power ballad 'Million Miles Away', blessed with a Thin Lizzy guitar opening along with a more deep sounding Monroe who fluctuates in power, tempo and style, you could imagine that no vocal take was even the same, such is his individuality. Soaring saxophone, piano keys and he is given free range to perform.

'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams' is another classic style Hanoi, with upfront verses and choir style chorus getting a good beating with the guitar duo of Nasty and McCoy. Much more vicious than The Rolling Stones or Aerosmith.

Actually in saying that, there was still quite an innocence about them (I can't believe I've mentioned Hanoi and innocence in the same sentence), if you look at the tracks 'Boiler' and 'Don't You Ever..' which included the English accented 'Razzle', (no surprise really) today it might have been pulled to pieces, but back then it suited and was accepted.

The boys sprint through with 'Futurama', it's fast and ready rock n' roll, which I was never keen on all those years ago and my view hasn't softened even now. We finish on a mixture of feelings with 'Cutting Corners' that contains some cracking verses but falls flat with a pretty bland chorus. Shame because the pressure was boiling in parts of the song and deserves better, but this is how Hanoi Rocks were so appealing, natural ability but still flawed genius!

In Summary
In some ways, I still feel I have done them a disservice and not even scratched the surface on what this band did and influence over the last 25 years. Or for that matter, even know enough about this band to fully represent them, especially just with one review. They always seemed to be running against the grain, pushing and testing limits, even the album cover was unconventional with the opening of the sleeve positioned differently to accommodate the striking photography. They seemed to have the ability to enter a jumble sale and walking out in highly expensive 3 piece suits. They had the looks, the aura, the fun and the attitude, you can't have too much of a good thing, well obviously you can. For a short while they soldiered on after the loss of Razzle, but soon decided to call it a day. After their premature demise I never really followed the groups that followed on their coattails. There was a small fire started in terms of the trash rock genre, or whatever you would like to call it, to me Hanoi Rocks were somewhat indefinable. We had The Quireboys, Dogs D'Amour and Tattooed Love Boys who had their shot of fame but nothing could come close to the natural ability of these Finns. It even took me a while to pick up on the reformation when they returned in 2002. They went on to record another 3 albums, but this now seems to be the last of their output as they once again have put the 'closed sign'. However it's this 1984 release that I keep close to my heart and a genuine reminder of me growing up.

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