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Articles Home » 1989 Articles » Vow Wow - 1989 Helter Skelter
Vow Wow - 1989 Helter Skelter

ALBUM: Helter Skelter
LABEL: Arista
SERIAL: 259 691
YEAR: 1989
CD REISSUE: 'Vibe' in 1989 (CT32-5321) and 2006 (TOCT-11128), rearranged tracklisting


LINEUP: Genki Hitomi - vocals * Kyoji Yamamoto - guitars * Rei Atsumi - keyboards * Neil Murray - bass * Toshihiro Niimi - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 I Feel The Power * 02 Talking 'Bout You * 03 Spellbound * 04 Helter Skelter * 05 The Boy * 06 Rock Me Now * 07 Turn On The Night * 08 Never Let You Go * 09 Night By Night * 10 You're The One For Me * 11 Sign Of The Times


Having finally tasted some chart success with 1987's very AOR effort 'V', Vow Wow were primed for further success and set about recording a follow up album in short order. 1988's 'Vibe' was released in Japan, but the band and label opted to add an extra track or two for the version to be released in the UK and Europe. A cover of the Beatles 'Helter Skelter' was one such track, ending up as the album's title once released in 1989. This album finds the band continuing the pomp informed AOR that had worked so well for them last time around, let's see how the songs hold up.

The Songs
'I Feel The Power' sets the template, an opening gambit full of Magnum ambition circa 'Wings Of Heave'. The hook and chorus are simple yet powerful, keyboard flourishes from Atsumi making the track what it is, pomp AOR of very high calibre. Thinking 'Bout You could be a sibling to the opening cut, melodic and bold in all the right ways, a little late 80's Kansas drifting by in the comparison stakes but Magnum are once again the main checkpoint. Uptempo AOR with plenty of Mark Stanway styled flourish going on in the keyboard section, great opening duo. 'Spellbound' did't work for me at all, basic hard rock with stomp factor but very light on melody. The Beatles cover is up next, 'Helter Skelter' given an almost ominous sounding update. Not bad, but not the showstopper they may have been going for. An uncharacteristically gentle ballad follows, 'The Boy' proving to be a very pleasant gear change that you would't have expeected them to pull off so easily. Some poignant lyrics centred around growing up also help the cause. 'Rock Me Now' was first released on their 1984 platter 'Beat Of Metal Motio', re recorded here with some relish, snowballing momentum all the while. Urgent AOR that gains in intensity, some Y&T and Kiss tendencies making a very welcome anthemic impact.

'Turn On The Night' is nothing to do with the classic Kiss track though, Vow Wow indulging in that Survivor tempo and a chorus that could sit alongside period Starship or Cheap Trick. This is easily one of the album highlights, straight ahead AOR with the keys once again adding something to the power and atmosphere, especially in the chorus. 'Never Let You Go' floats by without really holding me in the tackle, a different story when 'Night By Night' arrives though. This is punchy pomp AOR, high on melody and very satisfying. The keyboard sound and punctuation effect here is what I would imagine George means by 'strident' in many of his reviews, it really cuts through the soundscape, contributing to the rhythm of the track in addition to its obvious melodic role. 'You're The One For Me' flew over the horizon though, a boogified hop that did't make any impact on me. Closing with a re recorded 'Sign Of The Times' was a stroke of genius though, this could be a blueprint for 80's pomp AOR. Atsumi is at the top of his game on the keys, and that swirling chorus is something like a wave that dumps you and wo't let you get back to the surface easily. Stunning track, and I do't say that lightly.

In Summary
'Helter Skelter' did't yield a hit like the 'V' opus did, and fared no better than ok. Very unfortunate, since it's as accurate a statement of late 80's pomp AOR as I've heard. To say it deserved better would be an understatement, as the majority of the album makes a strong impact. Next up would be 1990's 'Mountain Top' vinyl, but not before a lineup change. In the meantime, 'Helter Skelter' is worthy of your attention, I can assure you.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 08 2013 02:43:30
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on November 08 2013 15:32:05
Looks like they stacked the hall with a ton of computer print out paper and a gigantic fan!
#3 | AOR Lee on November 09 2013 04:42:53
Cool video George, I always preferred performance videos to those 'storyline' efforts we were bombarded with back in the day! Agree on the print paper and giant fan ... or were they filming in Port Elizabeth with the door open ?
#4 | englandashes on November 10 2013 22:00:01
Finally got round to playing this, so your article succeeded Lee!, ha ha, which brings me on the subject, why an earth when Vow Wow have songs like Turn On The Night, The Boy and Talking Bout You, they include (yes probably record company politics) the Helter Skelter song, I mean, it was the worst song on Crue's Shout at the Devil, why do bands feel the urge to cover this (is it any good?) and while I am at it, add in the following tunes that don't ever need to be covered again.....Perfect Day (No offense meant Lou), Hallelujah (no one will top Buckley's version) and might as well add Don't Stop Believin to the list, rant over, back to enjoying Vow Wow!
#5 | AOR Lee on November 11 2013 04:18:34
Chris I agree with what you said, it would have raised the album another notch if Helter Skelter was absent. Death to cover version overkill! Great that you're enjoying the rest of the disc though keyboards
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