American hard rock and metal finally found an identity with Montrose’s debut, undoubtedly the most influential North American album of its kind.
Written by: Dangerzone
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: BS240 (USA), K-46276 (UK)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Sammy Hagar – vocals * Ronnie Montrose – guitars * Bill Church – bass * Denny Carmassi – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 One Thing On My Mind * 02 Good Rockin’ Tonight * 03 Bad Motor Scooter * 04 Rock The Nation * 05 Space Station No. 5 * 06 I Don’t Want It * 07 Make It Last * 08 Rock Candy
WEBLINKS: Site Link
After years languishing behind British heavyweights like The Who, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep, American hard rock and metal finally found an identity with Montrose’s debut, undoubtedly the most influential North American album of its kind.
While acts like Grand Funk, Blue Cheer, Bloodrock, Bang and Dust were heavy they lacked the sheen and heaviness of their British rivals, sounding comparatively dated. Upon Montrose’s introduction many of the British acts themselves dated overnight, such was the ‘ahead of its time’ bludgeon.
Ronnie Montrose formed the band in 1973, enlisting Church and Carmassi, who like him had significant experience as session men. Hagar on the other hand was barely known, but a more inspired choice could not have been made. The results were unparalleled, an album which thirty years later sounds as fresh as it probably did back then.
Eight tracks, eight classics. To this day at least five tracks remain rock radio staples and deservedly so. From the outset it was all systems go, the storming opener ‘Rock The Nation’ barely three minutes, with its single minded riff, which delves into a touch of boogie half way through. How many bands would go on to copy the song title itself also?
‘Bad Motor Scooter’ and ‘Space Station #5’ speak for themselves, tried and tested over time, but still able to leave one shell-shocked today! The final minute of the latter was probably the fastest and most advanced piece of metal heard up to that point by any American act.
‘I Don’t Want It’ boasts a riff more directed to driving boogie, whereas ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ is three minutes of hardcore rock and roll, with manic pace and a bruising solo from Montrose accompanied by those fantastic handclaps.
Every future US act owed Montrose for ‘Rock Candy’ the archetype for raunchy hard rock, with a riff so brazen that Led Zeppelin were put to shame.
‘One Thing On My Mind’ and ‘Make It Last’ add to the cause, the energy levels high enough that you can feel it as the listener. You know you’re listening to magic unravelling before your ears.
In 1972 Deep Purple ruled the hard rock world through albums like ‘Machine Head’. By 1973 they seemed passe almost, witness ‘Who Do We Think We Are’, then ‘Montrose.
Suddenly Purple might as well have been Steppenwolf! How Ted Templeman captured such a full, invigorating sound is unknown, but it must have been no fluke as he replicated it with Van Halen in 1978.
If this were released today you could almost believe it was 2003, so clean and heavy is the sound. It helped that the band avoided keyboards to an extent, which helped to keep it from dating.
Overnight, Hagar was established as a star through his powerhouse delivery, overshadowing Montrose’s guitar innovation. As a result the follow up suffered, ‘Paper Money’ not coming close as the band splintered shortly after, Hagar and Church both leaving.
Kiss and Aerosmith soon followed in Montrose’s wake, both helping further the cause, but for overall importance this has never been bettered. One of a kind.