In 1989 when I was about 17 Kerrang! (which I followed unquestioningly) published a series of booklets of the Top 100 best Heavy Metal LPs ever, or somesuch*. All the usual suspects were there, plus a few I’d not heard before but the biggest surprise to me was #4 a self-titled 1973 LP by a band I’d never heard of before called Montrose. Who were these upstarts with the Van Halen singer? I’d never even heard anyone mention them before (although I had heard LA Guns covering ‘Rock Candy’ and thought it was one of theirs). Luckily as fate would have it Colin Evans needed money and didn’t mind selling off bits of his brothers’ record collection to raise it (whilst said brother was helplessly away at college), so in a clandestine deal on the back of a bus I bought 2 Montrose LPs, plus Paranoid and 2 Motörhead singles all for £8. Damn straight. My conscience has never troubled me even once over this deal.
When I got the sucker home I played it and found 3 brilliant tracks, 3 good ones and a bit of filler and to be honest I hadn’t played this LP until today for about 20 years. Let’s get the obvious out of the way, ‘Bad Motor Scooter’, ‘Space Station #5’ and ‘Rock Candy’ are about as good as hard rock gets and ‘Rock the Nation’ isn’t far behind. All of which really do sound better the louder you play them – true story. In fact should I ever be forced at phaser point to put together a hard rock compilation CD for aliens (probably in order to prevent the destruction of the earth and enslavement of the human race) then I would struggle not to include the first two at least, in fact I’d probably finish with ‘Space Station #5′, that should satisfy ’em. I’ll never forgive Mötley Crüe for robbing the intro to ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ for their own witless purposes either.
I can’t get over how brash-sounding Montrose is, it’s right there in your face from the first chords onwards. This really is an LP with a high opinion of itself and that’s fine by me, because it does deliver in chunks. This isn’t an LP to console yourself with when your woman done you wrong, or an LP to help you find ‘the real hidden you’, or an LP to soundtrack the birth of your first child, this is an LP to drink to and to have good times in the sun with, if you were born a bit geeky and socially odd, this LP would trip you in the school corridors and glue your locker shut, it wouldn’t be your friend if you didn’t like sports; despite the rather homoerotic cover…
But I digress, I stand by my earlier verdict this isn’t a great LP, it’s a decent LP with some great songs on it. The musicianship is excellent throughout and Ted Templeman’s production really packs a righteous wallop. The likes of ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’, ‘Make it Last’ and ‘I Don’t Want it’ are good and solid, but lack a certain sparkle – although ‘I Don’t Want it’ surely invented both W.A.S.P and Twisted Sister in one fell swoop. Sadly, I think ‘One thing on my Mind’ (and I’m guessing it isn’t medieval European history) is the runt of the litter.
I would not have made it #4 on my list but I’m glad Kerrang! did all those years ago, otherwise I may well have missed out on some truly great tracks and a sight of the brashness that countless lesser bands seized upon to make their 80’s rock dreams come true.
* of course I collected them and started to tick them all off, I got pretty far through them but I just can’t quite bring myself to buy the Michael Bolton LP on there though.