Eyes of Balilisk Gorky Park (Mercury) 1989

1.   Bang (4:51)
2.   Try to Find Me (5:12)
3.   Hit Me With the News (3:55)
4.   Sometimes at Night (5:10)
5.   Peace in Our Time (5:58)
6.   My Generation (4:47)
7.   Within Your Eyes (4:57)
8.   Child of the Wind (5:28)
9.   Fortress (4:08)
10. Danger (3:32)
11. Action (3:54)

Gorky Park's claim to fame is that they were one of the first "heavy metal" bands to come out of Russia following the fall of the Iron Curtain. The band came to the United States in search of a record deal. They were spotted by Frank Zappa and Bon Jovi, who helped the band get a deal with Mercury Records. The band's gimmick was definitely their geographical origin, right down the to their hammer and sickle logo. However, their sound is very similar to a lot of American bands popular during the mid-to-late 1980's. This isn't really surprising since Bruce Fairbairn, Richie Sambora and Bon Jovi produced the album and had a hand in the songwriting as well. In fact, the album also contains a collaboration with Bon Jovi titled "Peace I Our Time," a melodic rock song about the end of the cold war. Fairbairn is known for his slick studio production on albums like Krokus "The Blitz", Bon Jovi "Slippery When Wet" and "New Jersey", as well as Aerosmith's "Permanent Vacation" and "Pump". 

There's nothing really heavy about Gorky Park. In fact their sound is mostly 80's pop rock. The album is split between glossy 80's rock songs and ballads. The album's opening track was a hit single for the band. "Bang" is a hooky, anthemic song that combined Russian and English lyric received heavy rotation on MTV, making Gorky Park the first Russian band to be aired on the music television heavyweight. The song features a metallic, hammer hitting and anvil sound that gives the song a unique feel, along with shout along chorus..."BANG! say da-da-da-dahhh!" It's unfortunate that the follow-up song is a super-sappy acoustic ballad. A harder rocking song like "Hit Me With the News" would have been a better follow-up song. "Peace in Our Time" is a solid pop rocker and should have been a big hit for the band in '89. Why this song wasn't released as the follow-up single to "Bang" is a mystery. The strangest tune is a cover of the Who's "My Generation" that comes off as a mixture of pop rock with an almost military march feel. It's an interesting take on the Who's classic track. The album ends with "Action", a song reminiscent of "Hysteria"-era Def Leppard. Overall, a polished rock album with just a few too many ballads from a band that really did have to hurdle some walls to find success. 

Moscow Calling Gorky Park - 2 Moscow Calling (Mercury) 1993

1. Moscow Calling (5:09)
2. All Roads (5:11)
3. Politics of Love (4:06)
4. Tomorrow (5:55)
5. Stranger (4:51)
6. Volga Boatman [instrumental] (1:15)
7. Strike (3:51)
8. Welcome to the Gorky Park (4:23)
9. Two Candles (5:01)
10. I'm Going Down (4:30)
11. City of Pain (4:57)
12. Don't Pull the Trigger (4:55)
13. Tell Me Why (3:25)

"Gorky Park? Oh yes, they were that band from Russia in the 80s. They had that MTV hit "Bang" and toured with Bon Jovi. I remember them. They had a second album? Who knew?" Nobody apparently. "Moscow Calling" is Gorky Park's second full length album. For whatever reason, despite a highly successful debut album, some very high profile gigs and touring the world, most of the world forgot about them. Part of the reason for that might be due to the fact that their first album was released in 1989 when their brand of glam metal/hard rock was still and vogue. By the time "Moscow Calling" was released four years later the world had changed and all the Nirvana and Pearl Jam clones were now infesting the music market. However, despite the lack of attention that "Moscow Calling" received, the album is good listen. In fact, I'd be so bold as to say that it's better than their debut in many ways. New vocalist Alexander "Big Sasha" Minkov-Marshal takes over lead vocals. He has a slightly raspy style that gives that works well with the bands blues based hard rock. For better or worse he sounds like Joe Elliot of Def Leppard at times. The production is slick and glossy with layers of vocals and a very "big" sound. At times the sound is extremely reminiscent of Pyromania-era Def Leppard, which was a hit sound from exactly a decade before this release.

As with the debut there are several cuts that stand out immediately. The album opener probably would have been a hit had it been released a few years earlier. The song has more hooks than a tackle box. "Welcome to the Gorky Park" is a song with a big groove and a big sing-along chorus. "Volga Boatman" is a short, albeit interesting instrumental with part of the song borrowing heavily from "Train Kept A Rollin'". The song acts as an intro to the hooky pop rocker "Strike". That's not to say that everything is great. "Two Candles", despite some nice acoustic guitar intro, is about as sappy as a ballad can get. "My candles are crying, ohhhhh ohhhhhh, my candles are crying, they're crying for you..." 

Despite a sound that sometimes echoes Def Leppard a bit too closely, the huge rhythms and raspy vocals, along with the subtle Eastern guitar melodies that weave between the plodding drums are quite appealing. 

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