Not in the mood for subtle today. I need some high energy, to compensate for the total lack of my own. I clearly need some inspiration from a dude who looks like the love child of Marilyn Monroe and Skeletor. Cue video:
Yeah gimme some of that – more high kicks than the entire output of Jackie Chan-Can-Can, cars being smashed up, guest spot from that Axl fella, that cool bendy over backwards thing he does so well and an awesome harmonica solo! I’m feeling more ready to face the vicissitudes of the day already.
Welcome friends to Michael Monroe Not Fakin’ It, a bit of a time traveller from 1989 for me, since I only picked it up a couple of years ago. I was a bit of a doofus all round when it came to Hanoi Rocks in general, having bought Back To Mystery City back in the day on every recommendation and then selling it on a couple of months later because it wasn’t heavy enough*. So it goes.
Not Fakin’ It is a class act with the feel of a good time classic rock LP than anything more dated and scene specific. Little Steven writes 3 tracks here, all absolute crackers, there’s a cover of Heavy Metal Kids ‘She’s No Angel’ and Nazareth ‘Not Fakin’ It’. The band Monroe assembled here is damned good too, Anton Fig on drums (he hits ’em hard on every track), Nasty Suicide on rhythm guitar, Kenny Aaronson on bass and Phil Grande and Jimmy Ripp on guitars. The personnel fluctuate a bit track-by-track but there are classy players throughout.
Not Fakin’ It just blasts off with ‘Dead, Jail Or Rock ‘n’ Roll’ – at one point every rocker’s cliché about what they’d be doing with their lives**. Daft lyrics, brilliant performance and off-the-dial levels of energy – perfection really, just wipes the floor with most everything else back in the day.
The belligerent Stonesy ‘While You Were Looking At Me’ is a great tune too, a smart lyric from Little Steven about PMRC related matters grafted onto a chassis based on the Pistols’ cover of ‘Substitute’. It’s a blinder. Ditto the Ian Hunter assisted^ cover of ‘She’s No Angel’, which once again joins the dots between all that low-rent London glam-seeping-into-early-punk milieu^^ absorbed and then refracted back by Hanoi Rocks.
Despite myself I am rather taken by the AOR-isms of ‘All Night With the Lights On’, which is not as rude as it sounds and boasts an absolutely cracking guitar solo, as well as a gritty vocal. The Nazareth cover ‘Not Fakin’ It’ is great, some proper old school hard rock ‘n’ roll, not a tune I knew before at all either – you have to like a track that namechecks James Joyce, Jesus and Jack the Ripper surely? the band really are cooking on this track too, enough to make me lurch around arrhythmically just now in my kitchen anyway.
Sadly it is the old story over on Side 2, a few missteps prevent Not Fakin’ It from being the Great Lost Rock Classic that we’ve all been searching for forever. ‘Shakedown’ is all good on the spasming energy front but not too much of a song, ‘Man With No Eyes’ has few redeeming features.
‘Love Is Thicker Than Blood’ is a gutsy rocker, chucking a bit of grit into the grooves but Mr Monroe has written better tracks, it’s good but no better than that. ‘Smoke Screen’ is a goodie too, a classy glide of a tune that could use better lyrics to lift it away from the comfort zone. What certainly isn’t sub par is LP closer ‘Thrill Me’ which slinks on like the bastard child of T-Rex and Billy Idol, it’s a great track loud and empty just the way I like it.
Not Fakin’ It is a great shot of good times hard rock ‘n’ roll from the guy who’s act was copped by so many of the 80’s Sunset Strip scenesters it just wasn’t funny. It would have made for a simply legendary mini-LP but there isn’t quite enough awesomeness to stitch a truly great LP together from. That’s fine I’ll happily take the rock ‘n’ roll, as long as it keeps me from death and incarceration.
PS: The Marilyn Monroe and Skeletor thing was robbed from my mate who saw MM open for Motörhead, said he has never seen anyone put such energy into a stage performance.
*see also Blue Öyster Cult. I knew shit all about anything.
**no Kerrang! interviewee ever said ‘probably working quietly in accounts receivable’ when asked what they’d have done if they had never picked up a guitar.
^Ian Hunter plays piano and doesn’t sing, presumably to stop Joe Elliott showing up.
^Heavy Metal Kids, The Boys, Hollywood Brats, Silverhead et.al. You know the score, cheap booze, uppers and damp nylon fumbles in London squats.