I think history will show that the second Montrose album ‘Paper Money’ doesn’t quite live up to the expectation or promise of the debut, but it’s not a throwaway either.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Paper Money
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: BS 2823
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Ronnie Monstrose – guitars, vocals * Sammy Hagar – vocals * Alan Fitzgerald – bass, keyboards, synthesizer * Denny Carmassi – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Underground * 02 Connection * 03 The Dreamer * 04 Starliner * 05 I Got The Fire * 06 Spaceage Sacrifice * 07 We’re Going Home * 08 Paper Money
It’s hard to argue the merits of the first Montrose album released a year before this one. A virtual HM freight train, it stands tall and proud among the HM genre out of America, when all the rage was happening over the other side of the Atlantic with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath dominating the scene.
In typical ‘sophomore syndrome’, the jury was out until Ronnie and the boys delivered album number two so that comparisons could be made to the first. I think history will show that ‘Paper Money’ doesn’t quite live up to the expectation or promise of the debut, but it’s not a throwaway either.
A few changes second time around. Bill Church departed the bass playing role, to be picked up by Alan Fitzgerald. The sound changed slightly too. I didn’t engage that well when I first bought this LP back in the 70’s if I remember correctly. I read somewhere recently that others felt similarly disengaged, and their theory was.. purely to do with the order of the track listing. If it had been rejigged in a slightly different way, then it may have produced different results.
The opener ‘Underground’ features a lot of flanger flavoured guitar from Ronnie. The overall feel is more mainstream rock rather than the OTT sound we heard on the debut. Probably not a good song to welcome in fans of the band, but listening to this years later, the song is not too bad actually.
The Rolling Stones penned ‘Connection’ is obvious when listening to it. The bluesy swagger with piano parts all sound very British to me. ‘The Dreamer’ is much more representative of the Montrose sound, a stomping back-end, edgy guitar riffs and a keyboard interlude provided by Fitzgerald.
‘Starliner’ is an instrumental track (just in case any Foreigner fans were thinking otherwise). There are a spate of goofy sci-fi effects contained within, something Ronnie would pursue musically in a decades time. There is a definite Led Zeppelin passage part way through that’ll have you wondering.
Without doubt, the best track on the album is the sensational hard rocker ‘I Got The Fire’. It’s so good, it’s since been covered by many other acts as a tribute to a great song, the most notable being Axe‘s version on their 1982 ‘Offering’ LP. ‘Spaceage Sacrifice’ is a slow blues based burner, simple in structure, but convincing on the delivery. The solo section is very cool, reminding me of Ronnie’s future work with Gamma.
Ronnie sings lead on ‘We’re Going Home’, he sings in a near spoken word context similar to Phil Collins, the song overall is very restrained and poignant. The album finishes up with the hard rocker title track ‘Paper Money’ which sounds uncannily like The James Gang.
The feeling in the industry at the time, was that Ronnie (being the maverick that we was) wasn’t interested in repeating the success of the first record.. You can tell with ‘Paper Money’ that different elements were included to mix it up. Certainly ‘Connection’, ‘Starliner’ and ‘We’re Going Home’ prove that point with their obvious differences.
Unfortunately, the Montrose/Hagar partnership would cease with this album, Hagar departing for a solo career with Capitol Records. Montrose (the band) would release two more albums during 1975 and 1976, but the magic of the band was never truly recreated beyond 1973 suffice to say.
I Got The Fire