Southern Steel Victory - Don't Get Mad-Get Even (Mercenary) 1987

1. The Check's in the Mail (4:06)
2. Are You Ready (3:15)
3. Not Me (3:34)
4. Arsonist of the Heart (4:01)
5. Hit and Run (3:30)
6. She's Back (3:33)
7. Turn it Up (3:38)
8. Seven Days Without You Makes One Weak (3:59)
9. Sneaking Out (4:32)
10. Running Wild (3:48)
11. Can't Stop Missing You (4:10)

1987's "Don't Get Mad... Get Even" is the second album from German rockers Victory. The band features Charlie Huhn of Foghat and Ted Nugent fame and for this album added former Accept guitarist Herman Frank. Apparently Frank was tired of what he described as the "heavier than thou" attitude of Accept and wanted to write more commercial material, which is exactly what he did with Victory.

Musically the band are usually described as European melodic rock, which I suppose might fit, but frankly, Victory are a bit heavier than bands like Bonfire or Pretty Maids. Rather the band have more in common with bands from the Hollywood strip, sounding slightly sleazy like L.A. Guns or to a less extent, Ratt. Vocalist Charlie Huhn has a great voice that is just slightly raspy and really brings the songs to life. "Checks in the Mail" is a great start to the album, a raunchy hard rocker with a big commercial hook. "Are You Ready" continues to rock hard, with lyrics that are meant to get a crowd worked up. "Are you ready, are your ready to rock and roll tonight". Yes, the album plods along as Huhn spouts every cliché in the party rock rule book. Trite? Perhaps, but no one said rock and roll had to be thought provoking. It's obviously all about rocking hard and enjoying life, rather than making some statement. "Arsonist of the Heart" is a slow, plodding power ballad that retains a heavy feel. "She's Back" is a hooky, hard rocker. "Not Me" features some monster riffing from Frank and Tommy Newton. The original LP ends with one of the band's best, "Running Wild". The CD pressing features an extra track, "Can't Stop Missing You", which is an emotional power ballad that reminds me a bit of mid-80's Scorpions.

A lot of melodic rock fans didn't care much for Huhn's raspy vocal approach. I, on the other hand, feel he gives the band some charisma that may not have been present with another sing. "Don't Get Mad-Get Even" is a solid European hard rock platter.

Culture Killed the Native Victory - Culture Killed the Native (Rhino/Rampage) 1989

1.      More and More (3:18)
2.      Never Satisfied  (2:59)
3.      Don't Tell No Lies (3:54)
4.      Always the Same (2:57)
5.      Power Strikes the Earth (3:28)
6.      Lost in the Night  (4:24)
7.      On the Loose  (4:04)
8.      Let it Rock On  (3:07)
9.      So They Run  (3:28)
10.     Standing on the Edge of Time  (3:50)
11.     The Warning  (3:50)
12.     Into the Darkness  (3:13)

Victory return in 1989 with a new singer, a new attitude, improved production and strong songwriting. Though they are based out of Germany, their sound is deeply rooted in American pop metal, sounding like a cross between "Mechanical Resonance" and "Dr. Feelgood" with a bit of Leatherwolf thrown in for good measure. New vocalist Fernando Garcia has a raspy style that times reminds me of Jeff Keith (Tesla). Former vocalist Charlie Huhn had a great voice as well, but he seemed a bit out of his element doing this style of hooky pop metal. In my opinion, his best days were with Ted Nugent. Garcia's sleazy raspy vocals bring a renewed energy to the band. Due to a stellar recording, the guitars have a metallic bite to them. Unlike many late 80's releases of this nature, "Culture Killed the Native" is not rendered completely impotent by overly slick, keyboard drenched production. Instead the music sounds rich. Each and every song features big overblown, sing-along choruses. There really isn't a filler song to be found here. Guitarist Herman Frank (Accept) and founder Tommy Newton lead a vicious guitar assault. Songs like "Let it Rock On" and "More and More" are pure melodic metal magic and feature screaming guitar solos. The obligatory ballad here is "Lost in the Night", an acoustic driven track with a very emotional, almost atmospheric sound. "Into the Darkness" is a CD bonus track. As such I was expecting it to be a something of a dog, since it wasn't considered good enough to put on the cassette or vinyl releases. Rather the song is a solid mid-paced rocker with a big shout-along chorus that is easily as good as the rest of the album.  "Culture Killed the Native" has to be one of the forgotten gems of the 80's.

Autographed in 2010 by Herman Frank when I saw him peform with Accept at the Key Club in Hollywood, CA.

Related collections:
Accept | Ted Nugent

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