‘Mayday’ is worth the hype and an easy classic. The following year’s ‘Revenge’ was equally as accomplished.
Written by: Dangerzone
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Steve Johnstad – vocals * Randy Fredrix – guitars * Charles Mas – bass * David Beck – keyboards * Gregg Gerson, Mark Kaufman – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Chicago Nights * 02 So Young So Bad * 03 New York City * 04 Loco Love * 05 Life In Space * 06 Love Affair * 07 Innocent Bystander * 08 Getaway * 09 Familiar Faces * 10 Once Upon A Time
Due to a brief, gleaming bio in the International Encyclopedia Of Hard Rock And Heavy Metal, Mayday instantly became a personal must-have, and I presume for legions of AOR fans as well, eager to own a long out of print album that appears to have obtained legend status in the genre.
Mayday’s origins lay in the dissolution of New York rock act Sun, providing the nucleus of Mayday. Even in this day and age of the internet, information regarding Mayday is elusive, with little details existing about their exact formation.
With mighty Steve ‘Zeus’ Johnstad at the helm the debut was solidly AOR in spirit, but rather heavier than most, with noticeably metallic riffs and relatively upbeat speed throughout. The band utilised two drummers on the album, although both were gone by the time of 1982’s follow up ‘Revenge’.
The bands decision to cover the Starz track ‘So Young, So Bad’ (from 1979’s ‘Coliseum Rock’) was curious as the track was only two years old at the time, but had already attained cult status from serious rock fans.
Apparently Mayday were a New York based outfit, but opener ‘Chicago Nights’ would suggest anything but! A tailor made anthem, the similarities to Journey are unavoidable to ignore, both in melody and Johnstad’s delivery, a match for Steve Perry at his best. Similar or not, this rivals ‘Escape’ for classic AOR.
‘So Young, So Bad’ follows, earlier than one might have suspected. A commendable cover that was recorded perhaps to do justice to an overlooked band and provide them with a hit. It wasn’t to be. ‘New York City’ arrives to banish the childhood memories of ‘Chicago Nights’, this a fierce rocker with more emphasis on riffs and attitude than sleek harmonies.
This attitude is continued with ‘Loco Love’, which again is close to Journey, reminding me of ‘Dead Or Alive’, but realistically it sounds like anything recorded prior to ‘Escape’ as both albums were recorded in 1981. ‘Life In Space’ features suitably space-like keyboard effects with a disco ridden bass track underneath. Disco AOR? – you can’t beat it!
Thankfully ‘Love Affair’ isn’t a weepy ballad, instead a catchy three minute rock workout that had ‘hit’ written all over it. As was so common in the period there’s some unwanted new wave keyboard work during ‘Innocent Bystander’, which is vanquished immediately by the assault of ‘Getaway’, very much an in your face slice of hard rock with no pretentions towards anything except going for broke.
‘Familiar Faces’ is unremarkable at best, leaving ‘Once Upon A Time’ to end the album on a sombre note, the closest to a ballad on the album, although it’s emotional and melodically burning.
‘Mayday’ is worth the hype and an easy classic. The following year’s ‘Revenge’ was equally as accomplished, and the fact that both albums failed indicates how tough the competition was in the early 80’s. After the band broke up, little was heard from the various members although Gerson drummed with Sven Gali, Adam Bomb and Skin And Bone reportedly.
Johnstad made an appearance on the 1987 Loudness album ‘Hurricane Eyes’, and was heard from a couple of years ago, as a Maytag repair man of all things. He is still writing new music and was spotted jamming with Eric Singer and Karl Cochran in September 2003. Both Mayday albums have since been reissued by Rock Candy Records during 2016. Wonders never cease to amaze!
Life In Space
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In regards to the band SUN, they were from Chicago and featured Randy Fredrix as well as Nikki Buzz (a.k.a Darrell Young), who would go on to Vendetta and M80.
The track ‘Romance’ is an absolute belter of a track, lifted from the 1976 album Live At CBGB’s.
Here’s the video.