Montrose - Montrose
The first time I heard "Space Station Number 5" I couldn't believe what I had just experienced. Even across the crowded dance floor of a long-gone night-club in Bristol which specialised in playing rock to groups of teenagers who couldn't abide the nauseous disco music which flooded every other club in those pre-punk days. Almost immediately, I went out and bought the album, though getting hold of it proved more difficult than I had anticipated. Once I had it, I then heard "Bad Motor Scooter" and "Rock Candy" as well and knew I had made a sound purchase of a quality album.
Montrose were different from the rest of the run of the mill rock bands which sloped around the mid to late seventies. Faster and with a denser sound, they could almost be seen as precursors of a style of metal which would gain prominence for another fifteen years or so. The spacey sound of "Space Station Number 5" is achieved solely using guitars - no theramins or synthesisers here. And then just to prove that was no fluke, Montrose produces precisely the sound of a motorbike revving and speeding away to open "Bad Motor Scooter". This man certainly knew how to handle a guitar!
Ronnie Montrose was definitely a brilliant guitarist, and if he had been born in a small town in the south east of England like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page he would probably have gone on to achieve the same level of greatness. His problem was either that he was too self-effacing or, more likely, he was overshadowed by an obnoxious, loud-mouthed no-talent who fronted his eponymous band - Sammy Hagar.
However, the album's fine start - to both sides of the old vinyl - fades the deeper you progress into it. The intensity of the opening tracks cannot be sustained. "I Don't Want It" is boring and bland while "Good Rockin' Tonight" is a lame rehash of a sentiment expressed hundreds of times before - "shake your funky booty" is to disco as "good rockin' tonight" is to rock. You have to wait until "Make it Last" before you begin to approach again the top three tracks in terms of quality.
Trouble with this album is that, once you take way those three outstanding tracks, "Space Station Number 5", "Bad Motor Scooter" and "Rock Candy", there is nothing really left on this album to shout about. That is the problem with vinyl. With CD's you can just press skip and think you've got the world's greatest album. With vinyl you get warts and all, and there are too many warts on this to give it a higher score despite the brilliance of those three tracks and the promise this band showed.
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