Saigon Kick Saigon Kick (Atlantic) 1991

1.      New World (5:42)
2.      What You Say (3:49)
3.      What Do You Do (2:40)
4.      Suzy (3:40)
5.      Colors (3:43)
6.      Coming Home (4:16)
7.      Love of God (4:00)
8.      Down by the Ocean (2:35)
9.      Acid Rain (1:38)
10.     My Life (4:45)
11.     Month of Sundays (2:26)
12.     Ugly (2:36)
13.     Come Take Me Now (4:37)
14.     I.C.U. (3:49)

Hard rockers Saigon Kick formed in Miami in 1988 with a lineup including Matt Kramer, Jason Bieler, Tom DeFile and Phil Varone. The band signed with Third Stone/Atlantic in 1990 and released this, their eponymous debut in 1991. I had heard someone describe Saigon Kick as a mixture of Metallica and The Beatles. For me that description brings to mind King's X and Galactic Cowboys. Oddly enough, while there may be a few slight similarities between these bands, for the most part Saigon Kick sound like neither of those bands. However, the description is still accurate. Unfortunately for Saigon Kick, they were lumped into a category of music called "hair metal". If this tag was due to their record label, it was a poor marketing decision. While Saigon Kick would be at home with any of the big bands from the 1980's, their sound does not echo what most people think of as "hair metal". The band's 1991 eponymous debut features some inspired songwriting and superb chops from guitarist Jason Bieler. The music is fairly diverse, almost like the band were trying to please everyone at the same time, from fans of U2 to Jane's Addiction to Def Leppard. There are the socially-conscious rocker like "Colors" and "Come Take Me Now", the Beatles inspired pop rock ("My Life"), plodding heavy metal ("Coming Home"), upbeat heavy metal ("Ugly"), Eastern-influenced metal ("New World"), raucous punk ("What Do You Do" and "Acid Rain"), MTV pop rock ("What You Say"), and a pop songs like "My Life" and "Down by the Ocean." Though I enjoy the diversity, I also think that it might be to the bands detriment trying to employ too many sounds at once. It's hard to completely identify with the band. Still, there is plenty to like about this debut album.

Moonflower Lane Saigon Kick - The Lizard (Third Stone/Atlantic) 1992

1. Cruelty (2:40)
2. Hostile Youth (3:18)
3. Feel the Same Way (2:42)
4. Freedom (4:12)
5. God of 42nd Street (3:59)
6. My Dog (:51)
7. Peppermint Tribe (4:52)
8. Love is on the Way 4:23)
9. The Lizard (4:02)
10. All Alright (3:54)
11. Sleep [instrumental] (1:00)
12. All I Want (3:44)
13. Body Bags (3:21)
14. Miss Jones (2:39)
15. World Goes Round (4:54)
16. Chanel (2:46)

Anyone who is vaguely familiar with Saigon Kick most likely knows them for their hit ballad "Love Is on the Way". While it was a hit for the band and sold them some records, it also unfortunately the reason they are unfairly pegged as a "hair metal" band. If Saigon Kick are hair metal, then King's X and Alice in Chains must be hair metal. Those bands aren't remotely connected to bands like Poison, Warrant, Winger, etc., and neither is Saigon Kick. Rather, what we have here is something fairly unique for 1992. They are an odd mixture of heavy metal, funk, alternative and only the slightest hint of pop metal. Aside from the sickening radio ballad, there are heavier tracks like "Hostile Youth" and "Body Bags", the later being featured in the movie Beyond The Law with Charlie Sheen. "God of 42nd Street" is an acoustic, melodic track that has a bit of a Beatles influence. I'm actually surprised this song wasn't chosen as the first single for the album. It's a far better track than "Love is on the Way". "My Dog" is an oddball track that has a heavy punk influence. "Miss Jones" has a huge funk vibe and is really a song that would have sounded perfect on Extreme's "III Sides to Every Story". The entire album features tight musicianship, dynamic textures and layers. The production is overall pretty slick, though not so slick that it strips the rock and roll right out of the band. It's actually quite a diverse and unique album that also surprisingly flows well together.

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