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Raven - 1985 Stay Hard

ALBUM: Stay Hard
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: A1-81241
YEAR: 1985


LINEUP: John Gallagher - vocals, bass * Mark Gallagher - guitar * Rob 'Wacko' Hunter - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Stay Hard * 02 When The Going Gets Tough * 03 On And On * 04 Get It Right * 05 Restless Child * 06 Power And Glory * 07 Pray For The Sun * 08 Hard Ride * 09 Extract The Action * 10 Bottom Line * 11 Gimme Just A Little (Bonus) * 12 Do Or Die (Bonus)


Newcastle NWOBHM leaders Raven had raised eyebrows with a trio of explosive albums for metal label Neat, namely 1981's 'Rock Until You Drop', 82's 'Wiped Out' and 83's 'All For One'. Their impossible wall of noise had put them at the forefront of a waning scene and as reward for their efforts made the break into the US. Metal guru Johnny Zazula who owns Megaforce Records, assumed management of the band and signed a deal with major label Atlantic Records for Raven, who had reached a standstill in terms of sales and popularity in Europe.

The Songs
With this leap, Raven had to make major concessions with their sound, streamlining it into more of a slick mainstream metal sound, with none of the raw production of earlier efforts. That's not to say it was a total let-down, although the frantic pace was toned down to almost safe levels. With only two songs over four minutes the album is an easy listen, obviously trying their hand at less heavy handed, more commercial tracks. The title cut boasts a chant of 'power to the metal', hearts in the right place! 'When The Going Gets Tough' blazes along with pace and Raven's trademark riff attack. There's also a hint of a melodic bridge in there too. 'On And On' might have appalled die hard metal-heads with a blatant chorus but retains the heaviness nonetheless as does the venom of 'Get It Right'. 'Power And The Glory' would have fitted on any Raven album thanks to John Gallagher's distinctive wail while 'Pray For The Sun' might not have, very slow and balladish, a first for Raven at that point. There's an inexplicable remake of 'Hard Ride', with none of the bite of the 1981 original. This is rendered obsolete by the traditional metal of 'Extract The Action', far more positive.

In Summary
The final result was an album despised by original fans and greeted positively by those previously unfamiliar with Raven. It did achieve some level of success US wise, even landing them on MTV. One year later they tried again with the similar 'The Pack Is Back' before giving up the notion of American domination and returning to their wild, original style on 1986's 'Mad' e.p. and 1987's Atlantic swansong 'Life's A Bitch'. Raven continue to exist today, sidelined currently by injuries to Mark Gallagher in a car accident. 'Stay Hard' has however stood the test of time well and is not the let-down many have paged it. A consistent album by one of metal's greatest outfits.

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#1 | sabace on April 14 2012 09:23:58
they wll never beat their debut lp! one of the all time great debut lps in its way as important as the van halen, montrose, kiss debuts because of its long time influence .

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