Hanoi Rocks: Back to Mystery City

MAY 1983 (29 YEARS AGO)
Hanoi Rocks: Back to Mystery City is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# Allmusic 4/5 stars
Back to Mystery City is the third studio album by Hanoi Rocks, released in May, 1983. The album reached No. 87 on the UK album chart.
It was produced by ex-Mott the Hoople members Dale Griffin and Pete “Overend” Watts, and was the first to actually feature Razzle’s drumming. Besides Hanoi Rocks, the album also features keyboardist Morgan Fisher, and Miriam Stockley on backing vocals, who had also sung with Pink Floyd.
Old-school glam met the new generation on this third studio release from Hanoi Rocks, produced by former Mott the Hoople rhythm section Dale Griffin and Overend Watts. While the familiar Hanoi Rocks elements are in place–raucous boogie played with a mixture of fierceness and irreverence–an adventuresome lyrical playfulness is evident on songs like “Tooting Bec Wreck,” “Mental Beat,” and “Lick Summer Love,” and Michael Monroe’s vocals are especially supple and expressive. The band even takes an ironic dip into instrumental folk on the brief album intro.
But the Finnish band is in no danger here of becoming arty. The emphasis is still on rocking, and on the album closer, “Back to Mystery City,” they achieve a gleefully tribal sound, no doubt influenced by the concurrent wave of Afrobeat that was sneaking into British new wave at the time.
REVIEW
by Ned Raggett, allmusic
Having so obviously worshipped at the altar of Mott the Hoople for much of their career, it’s little surprise that for their fourth album Hanoi Rocks went straight to the source, getting both Dale Buffin Griffin and Pete “Overend” Watts to produce Back to Mystery City. Whatever else they brought to the sessions, the duo makes Hanoi Rocks sound like a much more powerful band than before; compared to Self Destruction Blues, the riffs are more explosive, the drumming pounding, and Michael Monroe is in full swing. The aura of ’50s rave-up, ’70s glam party, and ’80s hard rock chaos that the band made their own sounds even better than before, but the production duo also made even more room for intriguing experiments within the songs themselves. Thus, the full-on glam stomp, mock-Burundi drums, and animal noises during the merry romp “Tooting Bec Wreck” (one of many Hanoi Rocks songs paying homage to home-away-from-home London), or the clearly obvious “Mony Mony” steal from the title track, with reverbed vocals working wonders. One thing’s for sure: calling the first song “Strange Boys Play Weird Openings,” and having it be a mock rustic folk song — with acoustic guitars, flutes, and chirping birds — is a great way to have fun. More so, admittedly, when things suddenly kick into the brilliant rocker “Malibu Beach Nightmare.” Other songs, like “Beating Gets Faster” and “Ice Cream Summer” (gratuitous misogyny aside), may be more Hanoi Rocks by-the-numbers, but it’s a good enough pattern to follow. In their own way, they weren’t so much pioneers as followers of a style that not many attempted at the time. They get extra points, as well, for having one of the more entertainingly crude song titles around: “Lick Summer Love.”
TRACKS:
All songs written by Andy McCoy except noted.
Side one
1.            “Strange Boys Play Weird Openings” 0:42
2.            “Malibu Beach Nightmare” 2:46
3.            “Mental Beat” 5:04
4.            “Tooting Bec Wreck” 6:11
5.            “Until I Get You” 4:37
Side two
1.            “Sailing Down the Tears” 4:09
2.            “Lick Summer Love” 4:21
3.            “Beating Gets Faster” (Andy McCoy, Michael Monroe)  3:51
4.            “Ice Cream Summer” 5:11
5.            “Back to Mystery City” 5:02

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Filed under Back to Mystery City, Dale Griffin, Hanoi Rocks, Michael Monroe, Morgan Fisher, mott the hoople, Pete Overend Watts

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