I think everyone that has heard both Damn Yankees albums will prefer the debut, but take nothing away from ‘Don’t Tread’, it contains a brace of excellent songs, and if you play the thing often enough, you might find it difficult to take it out of your CD player.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Damn Yankees
ALBUM: Don’t Tread
LABEL: Warner Bros
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Jack Blades – vocals, bass * Tommy Shaw – vocals, guitars * Ted Nugent – vocals, guitars * Michael Cartellone – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Don’t Tread On Me * 02 Fifteen Minutes Of Fame * 03 Where You Goin’ Now * 04 Dirty Dog * 05 Mister Please * 06 Silence Is Broken * 07 Firefly * 08 Someone To Believe * 09 This Side Of Hell * 10 Double Coyote * 11 Uprising
The first Damn Yankees album from 1990 was a pretty decent hit-out from a band full of celebrity musicians. Going double-platinum, the album was played everywhere during the first half of 1990 and deservedly so. It took two years for the follow-up ‘Don’t Tread’ to resurface, and with the changing landscape in melodic rock at the time, the CD got less airtime than it should have.
I think everyone that has heard both Damn Yankees albums will prefer the debut, but take nothing away from ‘Don’t Tread’, it contains a brace of excellent songs, and if you play the thing often enough, you might find it difficult to take it out of your CD player. The songs seem to mirror the individual personalities of the the three principal band members: Blades, Shaw and Nugent, and you’ll surely pick up on this as you navigate your way through the album.
‘Don’t Tread On Me’ is classic U.S hard rock, a stomping drum-line from Cartellone and razing guitar work from Nugent kicks this one off in no uncertain terms. ‘Fifteen Minutes Of Fame’ continues the forthright drum-work, a high-roller of a tune that bruises the ear-drums with Blades and Shaw combining mightily on the chorus.
‘Where You Goin’ Now’ features Tommy Shaw’s high falsetto, a sweeping orchestrated ballad in the vein of ‘High Enough’ from the debut. ‘Dirty Dog’ is a raucous as the songtitle suggests. A back-alley rocker with the classic lyric ‘stop sniffin’ around my bitches!’.
‘Mister Please’ fades in gently upon a calm vocal and some harmony acoustic guitar. DY kick the door down 1 min 25 sec later, guitars on overload though still highly melodic. The song isn’t representative of the personnel’s past bands, though the acoustic work of Shaw comes closest to early Styx.
‘Silence Is Broken’ is simply gorgeous stuff, Tommy Shaw’s lead vocal is killer on this one, and I’d have no hesitation in declaring this my favourite track on the CD. ‘Firefly’ turns on the firepower, with a hard driving rhythm section not heard since Dokken‘s ‘We’re Illegal’. Great stuff.
‘Someone To Believe’ goes down a hard rocking southern route. A touch of Tangier but perhaps slightly heavier, this sounds wonderful; Nugent having a fun time with some six string magic applied. ‘This Side Of Hell’ is trademark Damn Yankees all over. Big, brash and in your face, no doubting this would sound great in a live context. Loud and proud as they say.
When I first heard ‘Double Coyote’, I was reminded of Van Halen‘s ‘Ice Cream Man’, the bluesy smokey sound a near perfect doppelganger. Finishing up with the 5 and half minute ‘Uprising’, Damn Yankees is a relentless and breathless rocker, no half measures given, Cartellone keeping the metronome strong all the way through with no lapses or breathers. A strong way to end the album.
Given the industry circumstances of the day, ‘Don’t Tread’ did well to reach high into the Billboard album charts (#22), going platinum as well. The album spawned three singles in 1992: ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ (with an accompanying video), ‘Mister Please’ and the excellent ‘Where You Goin’ Now’.
In 1993, the band issued ‘Silence Is Broken’, keeping the momentum going a year after the album’s release. To wrap, I believe the combination of Blades, Shaw and Nugent made for some compelling hard rock.
Their individual styles combining for DY might not have convinced industry critics at the start, but it definitely produced results that listeners enjoyed. It goes to show that at the end of the day, it’s the listeners that rule the roost and not the critics. As for the future, anything’s possible, and maybe in the 21st Century, we can expect to see a new (third) Damn Yankees album.
Silence Is Broken
Don’t Tread On Me
Where You Goin’ Now
Entire Album (Select Tracks)