Decades on from the annual bottle wars that livened things up at the old, twin-stage Reading Festival, it’s worth noting it wasn’t just punters who risked taking Ruddles containers refilled with urine flush in the face. It was the bands, too. Remember 1983? Reggae band Steel Pulse – one the the great live bands – stepped on stage, only to retreat minutes later under a hail of incoming plastic.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, a virtual unknown as he started his set, stood up to the battery with the sheer force of his playing, launching into an electrifying version of Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) that stopped the missiles almost as soon as they’d started.
And then there was Hanoi Rocks. Bouncing on stage to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana amid a deluge of projectiles, they simply ignored the flak, as if nothing could get in their way, and played a set that suggested very little regard for their personal health and safety. They were wild, and unstoppable, and impossibly glamorous, and clearly welded together in the way bands like to pretend but very seldom are. A year later they released an album that felt exactly the same.
Signed to a major label for the first time, Two Steps From The Move brought in former Kiss and Alice Cooper producer Bob Ezrin to fatten up the sound and tidy up the rough edges (the previous year’s Back To Mystery City was similarly wild, but much scratchier).
It starts with a thumping version of Creedence’s Up Around The Bend, but it’s a perfunctory if enthusiastic take and might better have been utilised as a B-side. The rest is brilliant. Actually, some of it’s terrible, but even then it’s brilliant.
Take Boiler, a throwaway romp featuring the line ‘She’s the first bird on me list, she makes me have one off the wrist’. It sounds like it was tossed off (pun intended) in less than the time it took to record, and in anyone else’s hands it would be inexcusable. It’s truly hopeless, but possesses such huge charm you can’t help but excuse its very obvious shortcomings.
But elsewhere, it’s all win. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, Million Miles Away, I Can’t Get It, Underwater World and a revamped Don’t You Ever Leave Me (a grammatical improvement over the original Don’t Never Leave Me) are stacked with a fierce, fiery panache.
It’s one of the purest rock’n’roll records you’ll ever hear, bringing together The Stones and The Dolls and Berry and Cooper and Thunders in a fizzing, righteous broth, equal parts London sleaze, Finnish grit and Helsinki glitz./o:p