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Montrose

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Average Rating
★★★★★
(101 Reviews)

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  • 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