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Sabu, Paul - 2012 Bangkok Rules

ARTIST: Sabu, Paul
ALBUM: Bangkok Rules
LABEL: Z Records
SERIAL: ZR0497155
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Paul Sabu- guitar, vocals * Linkan Andersson - guitar * Martin Karlsson - bass * Lee Morris - drums * Frankie Banali - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Bangkok Rules * 02 Rock Don't Run * 03 Race to Nowhere * 04 Live Or Die Tryin' * 05 Love's Got a Mind of Her Own * 06 Rocked And Loaded * 07 Read My Eyes * 08 Black Star * 09 Code Blue * 10 Back The Jacks



Despite being released at the end of April I had no idea this album existed until a week ago, which doesn't surprise me given Sabu's diminished profile these days. I also blame it on being banished to a prominent warzone at the time, something that doesn't leave much time to disseminate the world of melodic hard rock. Nevertheless my attention was bought to this due to a scathing review that all but cast it into a waste disposal as total rubbish. I thought it couldn't be that bad, after all this is a man responsible for some seminal moments in AOR on the odd occasion. This time around Sabu has aligned himself with guitarist Andersson, who played with Tony Mills some years back. Drummer Morris meanwhile used to play with miserable U.K. rockers Paradise Lost and veteran Banali puts in a guest performance. Musically Sabu hasn't changed, this is still the same brand of hard rock he's been playing for decades and for most of those who read this site that's definitely a plus.

The Songs
What's noticeable is how strained Sabu's vocals are throughout the album, but it's not the major issue other reviewers seems to have concentrated on. Those weaned on Only Child and 'Heartbreak' will be encouraged by the title track, which is mid 80's hard rock in all its glory, vintage Sabu and without any nods or traces to whatever is considered relevant in 2012. Even more superior is 'Rock Don't Run', another overload of big riffs and an AOR chorus only Sabu is capable of. Is it 1988? Listen to this and you'll be transported back in time. Banali puts in his lone effort on this one also. 'Race To Nowhere' has a late 80's Sunset Strip vibe at work, the kind of song King Kobra would be right at home with. There's an excellent mix of synths and guitars in the mix, another quality song. The inspirational 'Live Or Die Tryin' features a victorious chorus in the best mid 80's soundtrack traditions, something you'd expect from Kiss perhaps. 'Love's Got A Mind Of Her Own' is another keyboard heavy AOR workout, but upping the ante hard rock wise is the well titled 'Rocked And Loaded', more Sabu brilliance at work. His sound is so ubiquitous and unique and it hasn't faltered at all this far into his career. The hook here says it all, chanted madness and utterly vintage. 'Read My Eyes' is a fairly simplistic ballad, not so endearing, but still better than Dokken. 'Black Star' is darker and heavier, almost as if he discovered grunge like every other desperate hard rock band did in 1993. 'Code Blue' is a bit of a 'Kashmir' copy rhythmically, but the spoken word verses are a tad strange, heavy for sure but Sabu doesn't quite pull this mixture off. Thankfully 'Back The Jacks' revives affairs, an energetic track with over the top backing vocals which recalls Sabu's 'Scream Until You Like It' from the 'Ghoulies II' soundtrack back in '88. This frantic feast ends the album on an upbeat note after the two rather ordinary songs before it.

In Summary
Disregarding those two songs, this is a great effort from the tried and tested legend. You have to admire Sabu's dedication to sticking to his formula. Everything that has always endeared Sabu is in plain view for anyone who chooses to or has already heard this album. The savage review that brought it to my attention initially was perhaps a touch too rough on this album, after all what more could you want from Sabu in 2012? Take it while you can get it. A pleasant surprise and one that will be vying for position at the end of the year's best of list.

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#1 | sabace on November 06 2012 19:39:21
interesting review - I love the cd as evidenced by my post at the time of the release, I'm glad other people are catching up!
#2 | gdazegod on November 06 2012 20:39:49
Is it true? According to Sabu's Facebook page, he is now living in Bangkok? And according to Teri Tims FB page, she is living in Austin TX, and they are still married. Go figure..
#3 | jeffrey343 on November 22 2013 00:04:44
Good lord, this is painful. Sabu's 'Kidd Glove' album from 1984 is one of my desert island discs, and 'Heartbreak' and the first Only Child albums are excellent as well. Based on that, I had to give this a chance, even though I haven't enjoyed anything he's put out since that Only Child album. I think there is some decent melody on many of these songs, and Sabu circa 1985 could make them sound good (with a more AOR production). But vocals are very important to me, and his on here just don't cut it. Glad this is on Rhapsody where I'm not out any $ for the torture I endured.

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