Ming City Rockers originate from the industrial town of Immingham, on the east coast of northern England. The band have just…
Demolition 23 – Self Titled (Remastered & Expanded Reissue)
Demolition 23 (Remastered & Expanded Reissue) - Wicked Cool Records
Demolition 23 was the group put together in the early 90’s by flamboyant and multi-talented musician/frontman Michael Monroe after the demise of the excellent but slightly more Glam band that was Jerusalem Slim, which also contained Michael’s long time friend and collaborator Sami Yaffa (both of Hanoi Rocks fame), and the guitar histrionics of Billy Idol’s guitar player Steve Stevens. Unfortunately, after just one album, the differing styles of Stevens and Monroe became untenable, and they split. I mention this because one song on the Jerusalem Slim album, re-surfaces in a shorter, slightly slower, but more muscular version on the Demolition 23 album. Joining Monroe and Yaffa (on vocal and bass duties respectively), are Jay Hening (ex-Star Star) and session drummer Jimmy Clark. After recording the record, Jay Hening was briefly replaced by another ex-Hanoi Rocks member, Nasty Suicide. However, sometime in 1995, Nasty Suicide decided to retire from the music scene, and moved back to Finland where he continued his education, and is now a Pharmacist (no, seriously, he took the “drugs” part in a whole new direction!). This was the final straw for Demolition 23 and Michael split the band, before moving on to a successful solo career, which he still enjoys to this day.
This recording was originally released in 1994, and only on CD, whereas the remastered version is available on blue vinyl and CD and contains an extra three tracks, with demos of Hammersmith Palais, Dysfunctional, and The Scum Lives On, taking the total to 13 songs. Unsurprisingly, the demos all have a “live” feel, and whilst it is interesting to hear the development of the final songs, they don’t really add anything for the casual listener. The studio tracks sound slightly crisper in their remastered form, with the vocals and cymbals benefitting the most.
Ok, so back to the 10 remaining songs, well, I’m afraid to say that 3 of these are covers by UK Subs, Dead Boys and Johnny Thunders. Now, I’m not a big fan of cover songs at the best of times, and even less so in a studio recorded format, BUT, as I wasn’t aware of the original renditions in 1994 (and I have to admit, I’ve still to hear them), their inclusion has never bothered me, and they all fit perfectly into the feel of this album. The record kicks off in emphatic fashion, with three killer tracks, namely Nothin’s Alright, Hammersmith Palais and The Scum Lives On. This is a statement of intent and sets the tone for the rest of the record, which is maintained across the rest of the collection. Familiar lyrical themes are explored, ranging from Michael’s musings on the changes in society across the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, in Nothin’s Alright, which continues in Hammersmith Palais, wherein Michael states that “I ain’t had no fun since the Hammersmith Palais”, and laments on the gentrification of the sleazier parts of cities such as Berlin, Tokyo, New York and of course London.
As any fan of Rock/Punk/Metal will attest to, these sleazy, slightly dangerous places were both frightening and intoxicating in equal measures to young, impressionable teenagers in the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. Now of course, even these dodgy, rat infested hellholes, we used to called “ours”, have largely disappeared, to be replaced with coffee shops, poncey restaurants, and unaffordable apartment buildings. Ah, well, they call it progress. Next up, is the aforementioned The Scum Lives On, and is as political as Demolition 23 get, with the lyrics taking pot shots at various political/high profile US figures of the day (Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Swaggart), whilst referencing the “injustice” of various Rock N’ Roll icons (Keith Moon, Bon Scott, Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators) who lived the lifestyle, and paid the ultimate price of an early death. Other highlights include the wonderfully nihilistic Same Shit, Different Day, and the gentle, mostly acoustic driven closing statement (not including the demo songs), of Deadtime Stories. This is the least snotty of the entire record, and shouldn’t work, but as with most material Michael Monroe has a hand in, a good song will stand on its own, irrespective of perceived genre. As such it is undeniably beautiful, and heartfelt, without falling into cheesy, smaltz terrority.
if you missed this album the first time around, and you like the Sleazy/Punky stylings of bands such as Backyard Babies, The Wildhearts (RIP), and of course Michael Monroe’s band, then this album should be in your collection. In short, a record to be enjoyed by those who like the thrill of seeing a band in a seedy, sweaty venue, down some dimly lit street, in the dodgiest part of town… ahh, bliss