What does it sound like?:
A couple of blasts from the past, combined with something new. The first two Montrose albums are both reissued as two cd sets, bulked out by half a dozen bonus tracks and two KSAN radio broadcasts from 1973 and 74 respectively. There’s also a posthumous release of a solo album Ronnie Montrose was working on when he passed away in 2012, which has now been completed by his cohorts.
I remember as a teenager being blown away by the first Montrose album. Those first spine tingling chords of the opener Rock The Nation blasting out of the stereo, then going straight into Bad Motor Scooter followed by Space Station Number 9 – it was absolutely eye (and ear) opening – what an opening salvo! The combination of Montrose and Sammy Hagar worked perfectly on this album, which is a really strong debut, probably one of the best to emerge from the US rock scene in that era – see also the mighty Rock Candy for further illumination.
Sadly, for me at least, the magic didn’t last. The following year’s release, Paper Money, proved to be Hagar’s swansong with the band and was something of a letdown. Although there’s more diversity of styles on this set, they made the schoolboy error of changing the winning formula, going for far less of a hard rock/proto metal sound. Add this to a fairly motley collection of pretty ordinary material, and you can almost hear the air hissing out of the Montrose balloon. It’s no surprise that the live set accompanying this concentrates quite heavily on the first album.
The posthumous 10×10 set was still very much a work in progress in the run up to Ronnie’s death. It has finally been completed with the help of his friends and family, and showcases his plan to have ten songs featuring ten different singers plus guest guitarists. I know from my recent review there’s a lot of love for Rick Derringer on here, so his many fans will be delighted to hear him playing here with Edgar Winter. There are also contributions from Joe Bonamassa, Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, Tommy Shaw of Styx, Glenn Hughes, and Journey/Santana man Greg Rolie. Highlights for me are the aforementioned Derringer/Winter effort Love Is An Art, Colour Blind featuring Sammy Hagar and Toto’s Steve Lukather, and Still Singin’ With The Band, with Glenn Hughes and Def Leppard’s Phil Collen. There are one or two duff moments – Grand Funk’s Mark Farner still does nothing for me I’m afraid – but this album is definitely well worth a listen.
What does it all *mean*?
A great debut, a disappointing follow up and a fitting farewell tribute to Ronnie Montrose – take your pick.
Goes well with…
Hard rock done the American way.
Might suit people who like…
US style rock, Van Halen.