Michael Monroe “One Man Gang”
For some of us, Michael Monroe will always be known as the frontman of the legendary Hanoi Rocks. That’s probably a bit unfair, as he has probably now been working as a solo artist longer than he was in the band! He’s also spent the last few years supported by a seriously kick ass band, including the brilliant Rich Jones & Steve Conte.
It’s the title track “One Man Gang” that opens up this album and it’s an absolute corker! Indeed, it may be our favourite of his solo songs since “Dead, Jail & Rock n Roll”. It’s a magnificent modern punk rock song. That quality is kept going with the awesome “Last Train To Tokyo” which has an almost power pop feel to it’s infectious sound.
There’s certainly no suggestion that he is getting any more laid back with his increasing ‘maturity’. Indeed, “Junk Planet” recalls the in your face punk rock sound of his previous incarnation in Demolition 23. Tracks like “The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider” and “Black Ties And Red Tapes” show that Mr Monroe continues to have more punk rock in him than any young contenders (not that there really are any genuine contenders around!).
He has also always had the ability to tone things down and add some sincerity to his sound, without it becoming cliched. That’s demonstrated by the big, lighters in the air, ballad “Midsummer Nights” and the more emotive sound of “In The Tall Grass”. “Waster Years” is probably the track that comes closest to the sleazier sound of Hanoi Rocks, and it has a chorus and melody to die for. Then final track “Heaven Is A Free State” is just a great example of how modern rock should be done – inventive but still melodic.
Let’s face it, there should be no surprise that this is a brilliant release. We’re talking about a record produced by one of the greatest ever frontmen. If ever there was a man who embodied the spirit of rock n roll then it’s Michael Monroe. This is ‘just’ another fine addition to a magnificent catalogue of work.