Thursday, July 28, 2016

Forgotten Bands Of The 80s-Fastway

I remember the 80s.  I also remember on August 1st, VH1 Classic is going to change over to become MTV classic to which they will show the first hour of when MTV was worth watching.  I really don't GAF about Road Rules repeats, which sucked in the first place.

Video killed the radio star indeed.  In 1984 MTV previewed a song off All Fired Up called Tell Me, which is basically a rewrite of their big hit Say What You Will. But the video was so bad, that it was showed once and then somebody burned the video afterwards.  I have yet to see it surface on You Tube and probably never will.

But lets go back a couple years.  Fast Eddie Clarke was the beloved guitar player in Motorhead but after Iron Fist, Clarke decided to go solo.  Originally Pete Way was signed up to play bass, he of UFO fame and then the one that sealed the deal for me, Jerry Shirley (Humble Pie, Natural Gas, and one of my all time favorite drummers) played drums after Humble Pie ran its course.  Clarke was tired of the all assault, in your face type of hard rock Motorhead was famous for and wanted to get to a more melodic hard rock sound ala Led Zeppelin and he found the best Robert Plant soundalike with Dave King, a very young Irish singer.  Contractual problems forced Pete Way out of the band and Mick Feat replaced him on their first album.  Eddie Kramer produced it.  Their first album remains a hard rock and roll classic, bursting out of the gate with Easy Livin and ten other hard rocking favorites, from the likes of Say What You Will, Give It some Action, We Become One and side one closer Heft! which Jerry Shirley tears up his drums at the coda end.  Bonus track Far Away From Home, reveals their inner Led Zeppelin fixation.   I tend to think that Fastway's first album was more Zep sounding than say, Kingdom Come or Bonham for that matter.  In 1983 I gave it record of the year honors.  And still holds up better today than Quiet Riot or Def Lepperd for that matter although those band's had bigger record sales.

All Fired Up, was the followup and Charlie McCracken, formerly of Taste came on as bass player.  Kramer was behind the production board again but this time out, the songs were not as memorable although I did like Tell Me, Steal The Show or Hung Up On Love, but with If Only You Can See and Hurtin Me, the Zep soundalike songs hurt more than helped.  After that, Jerry Shirley and McCracken opted out.  What follows next was total abandonment of their hard rock and roll and any credibility.

With Waiting For The Roar, new members came in and Terry Manning, fresh from success with ZZ Top, Molly Hatchet (in a way) and George Thorogood, came in to destroy their sound in favor of dated keyboards and a weird pop sound.  There was a minor hit with The World Waits For You but followup single Little By Little showed them trying to be Z Z Top.  The record pissed off fans of the first album and sales tanked.  The next album Fastway tried to go back to their hard rock sound on the Trick Or Treat Soundtrack but the cliche lyrics and music didn't help either.  Adding Heft as an afterthought along with If Only You Can See saves this from being a total waste of time.  With that David King left to do a new project called Katmandu with Mandy Mayer (Krokus, Asia) and made one album before calling it a day.  King would reinvent himself with Celtic  Irish folk punk rockers Flogging Molly  and still continues to front that band to this day.  Perhaps I have to look into their music now that I know that King was once part of Fastway.



In 1988 Clarke revived the Fastway banner with new singer Lea Hart.  On Target, was really off the mark.  The band had become more of a pop hair metal band and despite some okay songs like Dead Or Alive, but like Waiting For The Roar, bad dated keyboards sink the effort, and while Dave King may have saved the previous albums, Lea Hart is no Robert Plant, nor Dave King.  It's a real bad record, to which I actually have the vinyl album, which is rare, but still full of empty music.  Bad Bad Girls, returns to a more rock and roll sound on lead off cut Had Enough and two members of Girlschool play on it under alias (due to contractual conflicts and Fast Eddie didn't want another situation like he did with Pete Way).   The reviews called it a Poor Man's Bon Jovi.  For another bright idea Clarke and Hart decided to revisit On Target but added reworked versions of Trick Or Treat or Say What You Will.  That didn't work either.

In 2012 Clarke returned with a new version of Fastway with Toby Jepson of Little Angels fame.  And Eat Dog Eat is the best Fastway album since All Fired Up, with more emphasis on a more blues rock sound somewhat like Rory Gallagher/Taste era. The misfire is the ballad Dead And Gone, and perhaps a bit too much reliance on Def Lepperd but at least Clarke isn't aping Bon Jovi like he did on both On Target and Bad Bad Girls. Since Eat Dog Eat, Fastway hasn't recorded a new album (Clarke has issued a blues album in 2014) but they're still touring to this day, opening up for Saxon across the pond this summer.

But in the end, their first album put them into such greatness that they would never repeat that success again.  It still remains one of the best rock albums of 1980s.




Albums:

Fastway (Columbia 1983)  A
All Fired Up (Columbia 1984)  B+
Waiting For The Roar (Columbia 1985) C
Trick Or Treat Soundtrack (Columbia 1986)  B-
On Target (Enigma/GWR 1988) C
Bad Bad Girls (Enigma/Legacy 1989) C
On Target (Reworked) (Receiver 1998) C-
Eat Dog Eat  (MVD Audio/SPV Steamhammer  2012) B+


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