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(101 Reviews)

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  • Sure glad I was in high school when MONTROSE came out! I truly do belive the 8-track was stuck in Mikes car stereo all summer long! Every song a blast! Still one of my favorite lps of all time,now on cd. 20 years from now? I’ll have a copy of whatever were playing it on! THANKS!

    Posted on December 10, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • With this album, Ronnie Montrose, Sammy Hagar and Ted Templeton crystalized a sound which would drive the Los Angeles Rock ‘n Roll Studio Scene for decades. Although other bands, most notably, Van Halen, were able to make more of a commercial success of the formula, the concoction first jelled here in 1973. It is telling that both Templeton and Hagar participated in Eddie Van Halen’s band. Further, every song on this CD still receives airplay. Finally, I am hard pressed to think of a significant improvement or variation developed by the LA Bands which faltered in filling these footsteps. At the risk of being redundant by writing about songs which everyone with an FM radio has memorized, there are some subtle aspects of this CD which deserve attention. First, the production is clean and precise. There is quite a bit of aural distance between the musicians. Sammy is front and center, with Montrose on the extremes of stereo sound. This is trademark Templeton, and he used this same approach with the Eagles, Doobie Brothers, and of course, Van Halen. Sammy would mature a lot over the years, improving his vocal abilities along the way, even so, he already has all of the elements of a great singer. ROCK CANDY is a classic in large part because Sammy can hold his own against a heavy rhythm section. Please listen to the way he elongates the opening phrases. First word echos with a whole lot of love; there is real yearning in “need”, and by the time you look to those above you, you’re ready for the guitar break, so you can catch your breath. Naturally, this is a Ronnie Montrose album and he is the star of every song. What technique has been overlooked, I don’t know. In play list order: 1. multi-track guitars at octave intervals; 2. best motorcycle sound by an untreated guitar, with panning, no less; 3. multi-multi track guitars with Hendrix-style backward guitar; 4. heavy riffing. [side two] 5. hammer-on pull-off speed solo; 6. delayed guitar, more heavy riffing, more and more multi-tracking; 7. phase shift guitar; 8. doubled guitar (not duplicated guitar, two tracks of the same chords played on two different guitars, by one guitarist). All this would be mere gimmicks if it weren’t for the manual dexterity, intonation and tone which Ronnie Montrose achieves. This all amounts to more studio time than most other guitarist at that time were devoting to two albums. By the mid-eighties, it was a prerequisite. If you are interested in owning the music you keep hearing on the radio, or if you are interested in the beginnings of the Los Angeles Rock ‘n Roll Studio scene, this CD will be interesting to you.

    Posted on December 10, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Arguably the greatest American hard rock album ever, Montrose’s 1973 debut is a stunning display of instrumental and vocal prowess. As the prototypical 4-piece – guitar/vocals/bass/drums – they recorded one of the all-time essential slabs of heavy rock. Ronnie Montrose makes a tremendous leap from in-demand session musician to bandleader and legit guitar hero, Sam Hagar (wasn’t even Sammy yet) sets the standard for American rock vocals, Bill “the Electric” Church lays down some amazingly fat basslines, and Denny Carmassi smacks his drums with intense precision and manly vigor. Track by track rundown: 1) Rock the Nation is the boldest possible statement of purpose – fast, super hard, and highly energized. Like all the songs on this album, it features fiery guitar, strong vocals, walloping drums, and solid bass. 2) Bad Motor Scooter starts out with the guitar imitating a revving motorcycle, as Hagar wails about how bad he wants to see his girlie. Seething with energy. Brilliant lead playing. 3) Space Station #5 burns with intensity! Epic multi-tracked soloing, cool sci-fi lyrics about leaving a dying planet, and a crazed hi-speed ending. 4) I Don’t Want It – an in-your-face rocker sporting immortal couplets such as “…just quit my job/makin’ toothpicks outta logs” and “flowers make me sneeze/and prayin’ hurts my knees”. Hagar sings like he means it. Starting side two on the original LP, 5) Good Rockin’ Tonite revamps the old Elvis hit in a live-wire fashion. The overwhemingly massive 6) Rock Candy has the heaviest drums since When The Levee Breaks. Thick yet fluid bass, titanic drumming, powerful vocals, highly-sexed lyrics, massive Ronnie riffage. Big rock indeed. 7) One Thing On My Mind is a lightweight party song, advancing the literature on chicks and rockin’ out and kickin’ back. The anthemic 8) Make it Last closes out the album in a more “philosophical” mode, with some trademark Hagar lyrics about growing pains, loss of innocence, blah blah etc. Montrose is a truly groundbreaking album, wildly influential on future generations of hard rock and metal bands. Incredibly tight, musically exciting, with relatively short songs (for the era) Montrose forged a new, bracingly kinetic sound, fresher than the competition. Eschewing the lengthy jamming of Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, much less crushingly heavy than Black Sabbath, not needing the theatricality of Alice Cooper or Kiss or Queen, more talented and less over-reaching than Grand Funk, tighter than BTO or The Amboy Dukes, less overtly boogie/blues oriented and more streamlined than Foghat or the James Gang, less ponderous than Rush or Uriah Heep, less myopic than Mahoghany Rush, not at all scary like early BOC, more catchy than Cactus or Crow, harder rocking than the southern rock bands. Note: I honestly adore all (well, most) of the above-mentioned bands, I’m just using them for contrast. Important precedent – Their brand of commercially viable (yet still diamond-hard) rock and roll was the template for Van Halen. Van Halen used to cover Montrose songs in their LA club days. Montrose actually shares much more with VH: several albums released on Warner Bros Records, produced (with great clarity) by Ted Templeman and engineered by Donn Landee. The influence made it across the Atlantic – Iron Maiden covered at least two different Montrose songs. Sammy Hager and Ronnie Montrose managed one more album together (1974’s fine Paper Money, also including Carmassi) before collapsing under the weight of the two competing gigantic egos, but the debut album is the real classic. Montrose has always had a permanent high spot on my top-ten “desert island disc” list. Perpetually a steady catalog seller for Warners, a remastered cd version is long overdue. At least three songs (tracks 1,2 and 6) on this album still make frequent rotation on most hard rock and classic rock stations, at least on the west coast. Both Hagar and Ronnie Montrose admit it was a career peak. Say, how about a reunion album and US tour while we’re dreaming? Crank it on up!

    Posted on December 9, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’ve always liked the hypothetical question, “If aliens landed on Earth and asked you what is rock ‘n’ roll, what album would give them to help answer their question?”Well, this debut album by Montrose would be a good place to start. This was definitive ’70s hard rock — sort of a missing link between Led Zeppelin and Van Halen. Ronnie Montrose could have been a guitar hero icon, like Jimmy Page or Eddie Van Halen if he had stayed focus and had been more prolific. He certainly had the chops.This album served as a template for future hard rock bands: a guitar, a bass, some drums and a singer whose seductive growl could peel the paint off your bedroom walls. In this case, the singer was a then-unknown kid name Sammy Hagar. Thanks to producer Ted Templeton, Hagar’s dynamic voice is brought front and center into the mix. The effect is a perfect blending of Montrose’s sonic guitar riffs — replete with multi-layering, tons of phase shifting and the best guitar/motorcycle sound I’ve heard on a rock record — with Hagar’s angst-laiden vocal pyrotechnics.The songs themselves are just straight-ahead, balls-to-the-wall rock. There’s no subtlety here, no important message to be delivered a la U2 or R.E.M. (For example, in “Rock Candy,” Hagar manages to yelp, “Your like rock candy, baby, sweet and sticky…” Yet, he pulls it off without sounding incredibly goofy or trite.) And the songs here are extremely catchy, making you want to sing along, as well as shake a little bit of that which mama gave you.”Rock The Nation” is a joyful anthem to teenage revealry and one of the best known songs from the album. “Bad Motor Scooter” — a personal favorite — has the best phase shifting guitar I’ve heard. Montrose’s guitar can be heard stretching sonically from one speaker to another and then back again with breathtaking results. “Space Station #5″, after some weird and pointless electronic noodling that opens the tune, blasts into a scorcher that is heavily reminiscent of Led Zepplin’s “Communication Breakdown.” Hagar even does his best Robert Plant impression here with no apologies.If you have never heard Ronnie Montrose’s guitar work, perhaps you’ll recall The Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein” or “Free Ride.” Montrose was a member of that band and that is his guitar you hear dominating those songs.If you are a fan of bands like Zeppelin or Van Halen, than you are bound to love this collection. In subsequent years, Montrose a made a couple of more albums with this line-up with mixed results. Though the Hagar/Montrose collaboration spawned a few more good records, none were as good top to bottom as this debut effort.The only problem I can see is that if you buy it you will want to play it VERY LOUDLY. And when the aliens ask you, “What are you listening to…?” Just say, “My friends … THIS is rock ‘n’ roll.”

    Posted on December 9, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • When the definitive history of rock is written, one single accomplishment will demand Ronnie Montrose’s inclusion as a guitar great – his 1973 self titled album `Montrose’.On this album you are treated to Montrose’s Gibson Les Paul guitar roaring like a motorcycle or screaming with almost impossible sustain.Ronnie Montrose’s career first took off in the early seventies as a guitarist for Van Morrison. Following this he teamed up with Edgar Winter before forming his own band in 1973 with Sammy Hagar (vocals), Bill Church (Bass) and Denny Carmassi (Drums).Although Montrose never gained `Mega Star’ status, they still managed to build up a large following in Europe and the US and from 73-75 they undertook numerous tours supporting established hard rock acts including Black Sabbath and Deep Purple which enhanced their reputation as a high calibre rock and roll band.The first album was originally issued in 1973 and was re-released in 1979 to coincide with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) which was flourishing at that time in the UK.Produced by Ted Templeman and written by the band it contains such songs as Bad Motor Scooter, Rock the Nation and Space Station Number 5 which can all be described as Full-Tilt Riff-Rock at it’s very best. If you are looking for an album which will bet the dandruff out of your hair and your neighbours banging on the walls this is the one for you.Good Rockin’ Tonight and Rock Candy are further excellent examples of up tempo, foot tapping, beer drinking rock and roll songs which appear on the album and cry out to be played at maximum volume on your Hi-Fi system.Surprisingly, Sammy Hagar did not do any guitar work on this album, all of which was left to Ronnie Montrose and was one of the factors which led to unrest between the two of them and the bands eventual splitting up in 1975 with Hagar leaving to pursue a solo career where he would at last get the chance to display his own skills on the guitar.Things between Hagar and Montrose had become so strained just prior to the split, that for the last dates of their final tour they refused to stand anywhere near each other on the stage.Following the split of Montrose and a successful solo career Sammy Hagar went on to gain even more fame and fortune as singer/guitarist with Van Halen.In an era of highly polished, digitally mastered, nicely rounded at the edges productions that we now live in, it’s always a pleasure to listen to this album and enjoy that Raw Rock sound of the early 70’s. It really doesn’t come any better than this.Mott the Dog.

    Posted on December 9, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now