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Krokus: Reissues

The Swiss AC/DC, in their big-haired, riff-heavy, lyrically-dodgy early-80s pomp.

If ever a heavy metal band set themselves up to be knocked down, it was Krokus. On the three albums now reissued on Rock Candy – Metal Rendez-vous (1980), Hardware (1981) and One Vice At A Time (1982) – they ripped off AC/DC to such an extent that one song, Shy Kid, had almost identical opening lines to those sung by Bon Scott on AC/DC’s 1976 blues Ride On.

The consensus on Krokus was memorably summed up when Sounds writer Garry Bushell likened the band to a light-fingered Liverpudlian brickie nicknamed Diesel, who would nick other people’s tools while cheerfully remarking: “Dese’ll do.” But what Krokus lacked in originality, they made up for by kicking ass. The band was a heavy-riffing powerhouse. They had great songs – genuine hard rock anthems. And while their singer, Malta-born Marc Storace, had the look of a stereotypical hairy-chested Mediterranean waiter, he could holler a tune like Bon, Brian Johnson and Noddy Holder.

Metal Rendez-vous (710) was the album that established them on the international stage after their first three records had tanked. Opening track Heatstrokes set the tone with its no-nonsense bludgeon riffola. And while Bedside Radio and Back-Seat Rock ‘N’ Roll were pure AC/DC homage, there was a flavour of the Scorpions on the pre-PC ballad Tokyo Nights, in which Storace croons with misplaced sincerity: ‘A yellow girl appeared and made me hot’.

The follow-up, Hardware (610), was a little patchy, but its best tracks are quintessential idiot-savant heavy metal. Mr. 69 is a flat-out head-banger in which Storace tells the story of a man who died as he lived: ‘He did choke on a lady’s sanitary pad’; Smelly Nelly combines a wonderfully greasy riff with bizarre, pigeon-mimicking vocal ad-libs, and a sexist lyric straight out of the ‘bottom’ drawer: ‘Her skin is dry and spotty, but her ass is just the best’.

What followed was the absolute pinnacle of the band’s career: One Vice At A Time (810). Undeniably, it sounded like AC/DC. But with smokin’ tracks such as Long Stick Goes Boom, Playin’ The Outlaw and To The Top, it’s better than any album AC/DC made after For Those About To Rock. Seriously. Krokus were arguably the most underrated band of their time. This proves it.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”