Tygers Of Pan Tang: Crazy Nights - Album Of The Week Club review

Two new members – including a future member of Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake – and an album rush-recorded to keep the record company happy: Crazy Nights by Tygers Of Pan Tang

Tygers Of Pan Tang: Crazy Nights cover art
(Image: © MCA)

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Tygers Of Pan Tang: Crazy Nights

Tygers Of Pan Tang: Crazy Nights cover art

(Image credit: MCA)

Do It Good
Love Don't Stay
Never Satisfied
Running Out of Time
Crazy Nights
Down and Out
Lonely Man
Make a Stand
Raised on Rock

Of all the bands that emerged from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the Tygers Of Pan Tang had the fanciest name – taken from a sword-and-sorcery tale by Michael Moorcock – although it may also have sounded like a curry house in the band’s native Whitley Bay.

The band will always have a place in rock history. Their single Don’t Touch Me There was the first release on Neat Records, the indie label at the forefront of the burgeoning scene, and such was the furore surrounding the NWOBHM that the band were quickly offered a major deal by MCA. The Tygers’ debut album appeared in summer 1980 and, amazingly, reached No.18 in the chart. Titled Wild Cat, it was typical raw’n’ready NWOBHM, but the quality of the songs shone through.

Follow-up Spellbound was released in spring ’81, by which time the Tygers had undergone two key line-up changes: singer Jess Cox had decamped to form Lionheart (‘the first NWOBHM supergroup’) with ex-Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton. His replacement was Jon Deverill (ex- Persian Risk), possessor of a more typically histrionic metal voice. The Tygers also added guitarist John Sykes, who would go on to join Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake.

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Other albums released in November 1981

  • Prince Charming - Adam and the Ants
  • Re·ac·tor - Neil Young and Crazy Horse
  • Mob Rules - Black Sabbath
  • Shake It Up - The Cars
  • Tonight I'm Yours - Rod Stewart
  • Diary of a Madman - Ozzy Osbourne
  • La Folie - The Stranglers
  • Music from "The Elder" - Kiss
  • Too Fast for Love - Mötley Crüe
  • Till Deaf Do Us Part - Slade
  • Renegade - Thin Lizzy
  • I Love Rock 'n' Roll - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  • Stop and Smell the Roses - Ringo Starr
  • For Those About to Rock We Salute You - AC/DC
  • Pearls - Elkie Brooks
  • Take No Prisoners - Molly Hatchet

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What they said...

"This is basically a Scorpions album, except with less good songwriting... It’s got bouncy, hook-filled riffs, syrupy vocals and lyrics about partying and relationships. That’s about all the musical description you need, as this is really the most basic metal gets without just… vanishing into thin air altogether... Crazy Nights’ problem comes down to the fact that most of the songs just don’t hit that hard, and won’t be that memorable after the album ends." (Encyclopaedia Metallum (opens in new tab))

"Unfortunately, [Tygers] impetus ground to a sudden halt when they were rudely pulled off the road and forced to record another album in only three weeks time -- and without producer Chris Tsangarides, who had guided their first two efforts but was otherwise occupied with Thin Lizzy's Renegade album... The resulting Crazy Nights album therefore made for only a half-satisfying listen and was also lacking in the lyrics department, with dumb rock clichés like Raised on Rock and Down and Out ruling the day." (AllMusic (opens in new tab))

"Consistently pleasing from top to bottom, this is a continuation of the more polished and professional approach taken the previous release, but this time with a red hot mix provided by Dennis MacKay. Throbbing with bottom end and searing guitar riffage, Crazy Nights is another triumph for the then youthful outfit. Highlights include the rampaging Running Out Of Time, rollicking Raised On Rock and the stealthy Love Don't Stay. (Brave Words (opens in new tab))

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What you said...

Gary Claydon: Whitley Bay's finest and a case of right band, right sound, right place, right time. By 1979 punk had pretty much burned itself out but it had given the UK music scene a firm kick up the arse. The rock and metal crowd were among those who embraced punk's energy and DIY ethic with enthusiasm resulting in what would be christened the NWOBHM.

Tygers of Pan Tang were a perfect fit for that scene. They looked the part, they had the raw, rough, energetic sound and enough talent to make it work. Even so, nobody expected their debut single, on Neat Records, to be as well received as it was. Its success played a large part in persuading label boss David Wood that metal really was the way forward.

I first saw the Tygers in early 1980, a few weeks after the debut single was released. They were on their first national tour, supporting Magnum (the following year on the Spellbound tour, it was the same two bands but with roles reversed - another example of how quickly fortunes can change in the music biz). The venue was The Limit on West St. in Sheffield. A basement 'dive' that was better known for punk and new wave, it played host to some bands who would go on to become massively successful. The small stage had a big, roof-supporting pillar smack in front of it. It was the kind of rough and ready joint that was perfect for the Tygers at that time. Their set was what you'd expect - energetically enthusiastic, loud and fast.

Just over two, short, years later, the band had graduated to City Hall-sized venues and were touring their most commercially successful album The Cage. Several personnel changes had taken place in that time, as well as a drastic change in direction. Gone was the youthful energy, instead here was a band who, to me, looked flat and bored, peddling unremarkable AOR. To help them do so, they even had a gleaming white, ornate, upright piano on stage for some of the numbers, with Fred Purser sitting there like some low-rent Liberace, banging out stuff such as The Actor, FFS. If nothing else, it was a waste of some good musicians.

So what had gone wrong in the interim? In a nutshell, MCA records, that's what. It's not a new story - young band has career derailed by interfering label and MCA weren't the only ones guilty of it but as far as the NWOBHM scene was concerned, they had a pretty dire track record.

Things weren't all bad. MCA handled the lads' debut album pretty well but there was soon a taste of what was to come. It was difficult to argue with the personnel who were brought in but it was done with unseemly haste. John Deverill had been marked as one to watch in his time with the excellent Persian Risk and John Sykes was already garnering a reputation as a hotshot guitarist. In truth MCA were right to judge that the band would have a limited shelf life with Jess Cox on vocals - a similar scenario to Maiden with Di'Anno. It was also difficult to argue with the resulting album, Spellbound being widely regarded as the band's best. That, though, was when the trouble really started.

Crazy Nights was riddled with problems right from the off. The band were in the middle of the gruelling record-tour-record-tour cycle that was pretty much the norm at the time. They were building some real momentum thanks to a couple of good albums backed up by the fact that they were a really good live band (including the Jess Cox period). However, MCA, keen to capitalise on the success of Spellbound, unceremoniously yanked them off the road and shoved them into the studio to start work on an album they quite simply weren't ready for. What the Tygers needed was a) a bit of a breather and b) some quality time to work on new material. They got neither.

To compound the rush-job nature of the recording Crazy Nights was actually released smack in the middle of a strike which was affecting the printed press in the UK, including the music weeklies. I can't remember if it was a branch of journalists or one of the print unions who were taking action but the result was a few weeks of 'skeleton' issues, missing many regular features such as record reviews and, crucially, a large reduction in advertising space. When Crazy Nights came out, therefore, it took the fanbase, including yours truly, by surprise. Its reception was, largely speaking, lukewarm.

The album's most obvious problem was that it had been rushed - and it sounded it. In addition, the production was very flat, which highlighted another mistake in the making of it - the decision not to have Chris Tsangarides as producer.

There are, unsurprisingly, no standout tracks on Crazy Nights but there are some decent ones. Running Out of Time and Raised On Rock come closest to capturing the energy of old and the likes of Do It Good and the title track could have been pretty good with a bit more time to work on them. One of the better tracks from Crazy Nights, Stormlands wasn't actually on the album but was on the bonus 12" single that was included with some copies.

All in all, although Crazy Nights is an ultimately unsatisfactory album, under the circumstances, the band managed to cobble together something that was actually, just about, OK (even though Sykes once described it as the worst thing he ever worked on!) 6/10.

As a footnote, anyone not familiar with latter-day Tygers activity would do well to check out some more recent work. Their self-titled album from 2016, Ritual (2019) and the recently remastered Ambush all blow Crazy Nights out of the water. Oh, and in the unlikely event that any of you want to know where I'll be on Sunday June 19, well I'll be at Nightrain in Bradford watching a gig. The headliners? The mighty Tygers of Pan Tang, of course.

Greg Schwepe: Immediate quick first impressions of Crazy Nights by Tygers of Pan Tang; decent hard rock/metal NWOBHM album. Lots of distorted power chords. Pretty rocking album all the way through. And to use the comments of another reviewer; songs were kind of “samey” all the way through too. Vocals good, but kind of had same delivery most of the time. Sykes (assuming that was him!) lets it really rip a few times during some extended solos.

Had never heard anything by this band previously but always see them when you have lists of NWOBHM bands written in an article. And upon listening all the way through I came to the conclusion; “Hmmm… second division NWOBHM band!” Not bad, but nothing spectacular for me. I think their stock rose after the fact by John Sykes’ later involvement in Thin Lizzy.

Uli Hassinger: The only folks who know about the band are the ones who were around back then or some guys who are interested in the history of NWOBHM. The band regularly is mentioned in articles about the development of this music scene, but that's it.

The albums of this era (late 70s till mid 80s) have a distinct charm no album has repeated since. The dirty sound of the guitars, the (compared to what we have now), relatively slow riffs and a distinct sound make it special. It's weird that back then this was the real hard stuff. This album is a good example of what it was all about.

To me Slip Away (which was originally on a 12" single attached to the record) and Make a Stand belong to the best examples of the NWOBHM. Do It Good, Raised On Rock, Crazy Nights are also classic heavy metal tunes. Apart from the filler Stormlands, the rest of the songs are strong too. I would rate Spellbound a little bit higher, but not so much as others here.

I especially prefer the singer John Deverill to John Cox on Wild Cat, when the songs got more power. But every album of the first four is worth listening to. I should give the recent albums a try. A very solid 8/10 for me.

Marco LG: In 1988 Tygers of Pan Tang were often mentioned among the traitors, those unforgivable bands who dared adding a touch of melody to their music, and even included a ballad. The chief example of such a band was of course Def Leppard, and 14 year old me loved Def Leppard. Those shout outs as traitors therefore made me love Tygers of Pan Tang before I even heard a note of their music.

The comparison with the superstars from Sheffield is something that stayed with me ever since. But I will argue that until 1983 the Tygers were the better band. Spellbound, the previous effort to this week’s pick and sophomore for the Tygers, is in my opinion a much more accomplished album than High ‘N’ Dry, and The Cage, the follow up to Crazy Nights, is an altogether more enjoyable album than Pyromania. My judgement is of course personal, but we can at least agree a lawsuit with the record label to be the real reason for the lack of sales. Damn it, they had everything: catchy anthems, a name impossible to forget and a good looking singer who could actually sing!

I always considered Crazy Nights a bit of a transitional album, sandwiched between their two best efforts. But this week I was surprised to find it actually a better album than I remembered. Songs like Love Don’t Stay, Running Out Of Time or the title track are worthy of inclusion in any imaginary best of by the band. And deep cuts like Never Satisfied, which reminds me of Cities On Flame a bit too much but I like it because of that, showcase the skills of a band on its way to stardom.

It’s a shame things didn’t work out for them. The first four albums by Tygers of Pan Tang are among the best produced by any NWOBHM band, and had the potential to propel the band to the stratosphere. Crazy Nights is probably the least convincing of the lot, but remains a thoroughly enjoyable experience, embellished by the riffs of John Sykes and the vocals of Jon Deverill, both at the peak of their performances.

A top tier score for me to a top tier NWOBHM band!

Mike Canoe: I love it. I love it all. Tygers of Pan Tang's Crazy Nights hits that sweet spot between heavy metal and hard rock perfectly. I hear a lot of UFO here, as well as early 80s Scorpions and Graham Bonnet-era Rainbow.

Like a lot of bands that didn't make it bigger, I read about Tygers of Pan Tang long before I actually heard them, usually in an article about NWOBHM, usually I could feel the smirk on the writer's face. Once YouTube became the world's jukebox, I finally had the chance to hear some Tygers for myself. I was so in thrall to their debut Wild Cat that it took me a few more years before I moved to the first two John Deverill albums, Spellbound and Crazy Nights.

While I realise John Sykes is the big draw here, for me it's the other John, er, Jon that puts these two albums over the top. Jon Deverill is, for me, another one of those unheralded rock voices where I scratch my head and wonder why he wasn't huge. His vocal phrasing is amazing and his delivery elevates potentially cornball material like title track Crazy Nights, Never Satisfied, or Raised on Rock.

But the whole band is great at what they do. While it's not always considered a compliment in rock'n'roll, there is a level of maturity missing from what the LA bands were starting to put together. The lyrics of songs like Love Don't Stay or Lonely Man, and Down And Out are more reflective than the average rock song while still rocking your socks off. Running Out Of Time is amazingly, depressingly relevant today. Witness the couplet, “We’re running out of time, destroying all we’ve built/ We’re running out of time, who will bear the guilt?

One of my favourite music journalists once wrote that it takes an infinite number of ducks correctly lined up in an infinite number of rows for a band to succeed. A band can do everything right musically but something on the business side can still go wrong. Tygers definitely seemed to suffer the insidious disease of changing lineupitis regularly. Their current lineup seems the most stable they've had, even if there is only one Tyger from the (almost) glory days present.

Bands like Tygers of Pan Tang fill my rock 'n' roll heart to bursting. More please!

Adam McCann: Crazy Nights is a great album overshadowed by Spellbound. But to say they're nearly forgotten these days? Not only are they NWOBHM legends, but much like a lot of older bands, they're really having a career purple patch where their recent output can go toe to toe with the classics.

Gerry Ranson: Love this album, although it's often maligned. It has a groove and swagger not previously heard on a Tygers record, and Dennis MacKay's production aimed it squarely at US rock radio. Definitely a step up from Spellbound.

Philip Qvist: There are some good songs here, such as Do It Good, Running Out Of Time, the title track and Raised On Rock; Jon Deverill is a good singer, while the same could be said about guitarists John Sykes and Robb Weir.

So Crazy Nights has plenty going for it, but I felt slightly underwhelmed after I listened to the album. I'm not sure where exactly though; it could be the production, it could be the muted sound (especially the rhythm section) or maybe the songs have the "heard it all before" sameness about it. That's not to say it is a bad album; it has plenty going for it, but it certainly isn't on my essential list - even if it is worth a spin or two.

Chris Elliott: Second division NWOBHM, of its time. Its fine - there were a lot worse but even back in the day it wasn't essential. It's not a bad record - it's just not a great record and after how ever many years its bit 'been there done that'.

Phil Wise: I'm not even through side one and I feel compelled to comment! This is excellent! I love this era in rock. So unaffected, unpretentious, and luckily underplayed. Of course I am familiar with the band, but not really their material, but this is great!

Mark Timms: When I first got this LP in 1981 I remember being seriously underwhelmed - I think purely because it followed Spellbound and I was young and daft. The production is somehow lacking, the songs are not quite as good or as hard hitting. However, it does have the excellent Love Don't Stay, which seemed to me to be the only song of similar quality to the previous album. Nowadays, I like it as a whole more than my teenage self did, but it will be forever in the shadow of Spellbound. If Spellbound is 9/10, Crazy Nights is a solid 6 or 7.

John Davidson: Hard to say why this doesn't work for me.

It's competent and workmanlike, and musicianship wise sounds on a par with the early efforts of Leppard, Maiden and Diamond Head but for whatever reason it just doesn't jump out at me.

They were one of the bands, like Angelwitch and Witchfynde, that were always around and about in the NWOBM conversation but never seemed to make that killer song .

My strongest memory of them is their cover of Love Potion No. 9 and thinking that kind of summed them up - that their best song was a cover version. I'll give it a few more spins before the week is out but so far it's a B+ of an album.

Alex Hayes: Where else to start this week, but with Crazy Nights' fabulous cover? Another masterclass from the great Rodney Matthews. If we were dishing out scores based purely on the artwork, then this would be getting a straight 10.

We're not though, and I definitely won't be awarding this full marks. Crazy Nights, Tygers Of Pan Tang's third album overall (but second of 1981, and also second to feature the talents of no less than John Sykes), may be a decent enough listen, but it's plainly a rush job. Most of the songs here are under-worked, and the album suffers from the deadest drum sound I've heard in many a long year. None of this should reflect badly on the band themselves, or the album's producer, Dennis MacKay. For an album thrown together in a matter of weeks, Crazy Nights is actually quite an accomplishment.

For every Maiden and Leppard, there were a dozen or so less fortunate NWOBHM bands out there. The ones with bad management, or a shitty record deal, or both. This is one of those occasions sadly. Tygers Of Pan Tang really should have been given the time to put together a worthy sequel to Spellbound, instead of being forced to rush release this. Down And Out is just one example of a song that could have been so much more effective, had it received a little more care and diligence.

They didn't call MCA the 'Music Cemetery Of America' for nothing. Crazy Nights comes across as workmanlike NWOBHM, but could have been much superior. The band plainly had the talent to go further with their career than they ultimately managed. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh there, and there were other factors at play with this, rather than just the label. All I can say for sure is that, by 1984, Tygers Of Pan Tang had bitten the dust as a band (at least for a while), following a dispute with none other than MCA. Bang! Door slammed, opportunity gone.

Like I say, Crazy Nights boasts a marvellous front cover. If only the music within had been crafted with the same level of attention. Not bad, but obviously rushed.

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Final Score: 7.24 (66 votes cast, total score 478)

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