Icon’s resulting fourth 1989 album differed greatly from the rampaging metal of the debut and the AOR tinged follow ups, the band leaning towards a predictable formularised late 80’s hard rock sound that almost left them without an identity.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Right Between The Eyes
SERIAL: 7 82010-2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Jerry Harrison – vocals * Dan Wexler – guitars, synthesizers * Drew Bollmann – guitars * Tracy Wallach – bass, vocals * Pat Dixon – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Right Between The Eyes * 02 Two For The Road * 03 Taking My Breath Away * 04 A Far Cry * 05 In Your Eyes * 06 Holy Mans War * 07 Bad Times * 08 Double Life * 09 Forever Young * 10 Running Under Fire * 11 Peace And Love
Icon of course are one of the great examples of a band who should have gone all the way but never did. Their first two classic albums ‘Icon’ and ‘Night Of The Crime’ remain popular to this day, and that Capitol dropped them was a farce, but a typical scenario during the 80’s with many a tremendous act consigned to nothing more than a single album or two if they were lucky.
Icon soldiered on following their dropping, in the process losing vocalist Stephen Clifford and guitarist John Aquilino. Recruiting Harrison and Bollmann, Icon issued a cassette only recording ‘A More Perfect Union’ in 1987. This was a set which helped them gain a deal with Megaforce, a subsidiary of Atlantic, home to many a thrash act in the late 80’s.
This resulting album differed greatly from the rampaging metal of the debut and the AOR tinged follow up, the band leaning towards a predictable formularised late 80’s hard rock sound that almost left them without an identity. That’s not to say this album is a flop, only the real Icon went ‘Missing’.
With Wexler’s guitar still at the helm you can still find elements of Icon’s once explosive sound, but with the band sporting perms, cowboy boots and leather vests it was obvious the band was trying to fit into the same scene as every other hard rock band trying to make the big time.
The title track is the most traditional sounding Icon track on offer, with a huge chorus and some gritty riffing. I could envision this on the debut, that’s how powerful this one is. Harrison appears to be another David Coverdale imitator, which is worthy praise.
Things get raunchy with the ultra melodic hook of ‘Two For The Road’, a cross between AOR and metal, with shades of Danger Danger‘s debut. Alice Cooper adds backing vocals, the first of his two contributions. ‘Taking My Breath Away’ is another shot at Whitesnake‘s throne, again the resulting chorus is superb, if somewhat generic, the type everyone was plundering in 1989, the big mass chorus in effect.
The keyboard work of ‘A Far Cry-A.Y.U.’ recalls the ‘Night Of The Crime’ epic and is a fine piece of heavy AOR. ‘In Your Eyes’ might have been a hit for Winger or Warrant with its breezy, charming tone, perfectly acceptable keyboard laced hard rock.
Things get serious on ‘Holy Man’s War’, with Alice Cooper sharing lead vocals, although I can’t get past the standard 80’s hard rock sound, which is reminiscent of so many bands, listing them would take a review in itself. ‘Bad Times’ could be Hurricane off their debut, by this point I’m almost begging for an ‘On Your Feet’ or ‘Rock On Through The Night’ such is the growing blandness of the music.
‘Double Life’ is second rate rock, with some awkward organ work and near Southern riffs. ‘Forever Young’ is the introspective ballad, where the band gets teary-eyed, the song itself a perfect fit for a soundtrack to an 80’s flick of any genre, the theme of hope evident in a moving vocal from Harrsion.
Things pick up heaviness wise with ‘Running Under Fire’, but the heavy metal fire just isn’t there to recommend it. The brief instrumental ‘Peace And Love’ adds nothing to precedings, just a riff overlapped by a guitar solo.
A mixed bag, with the albums first half easily dominating the latter stages. Icon persevered for a few tours following the albums release but eventually split in 1990.
Given the glut of bands treading the same ground Icon never stood much of a chance despite their quality. They were simply doing what they had to do to survive in the cut throat industry, but their best work came with their debut which to most is a true indication of what Icon stood for.
They never convinced me during ‘Right Between The Eyes’ that this is their true calling. Worth a listen however, there was much worse fare recorded in 1989 that succeeded where Icon should have prevailed instead.
Taking My Breath Away
Entire Album (Select Tracks)