SHAMELESS – Beautiful Disaster (2013)
Founded at the end of the eighties in Munich, Germany, SHAMELESS is the brainchild of bass player Alexx “Skunk” Michael and since the band’s debut album, all the recordings featured numerous American rockers in the line-up. But the most distinguishable aspect in Skunk’s musical vision is the fact he doesn’t give a damn that the ’80s are over.
And this keeps firmly established in Shameless’ new album “Beautiful Disaster” to be released this month.
Unashamedly or ‘shameless’ indeed, Skunk’s songwriting, arrangements and style are pure late eighties Sunset Strip melodic hard/glam rock modelled, with all the clichés, big hair, eyeliner and lipstick galore.
But the truth is he’s pretty good at that, as although this stuff has been done zillion times, Skunk has the ‘touch’ to build the songs with all the necessary ingredients to make this genre work; strong glammy melodies, catchy refrains, vocals which swerve between the smooth and a sneer, a loud rhythm section and big flashy guitar solos, all wrapped up in punk street level swagger.
Yet, this new album offers some welcomed variations to be described below.
Skunk is not alone for this Sunset Strip revival as count with people who literally lived the scene like Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper, Big Bang Babies), Stevie Rachelle (Tuff), Steve Summers (Pretty Boy Floyd), and for many, the main selling point of “Beautiful Disaster”; the return of none other than the legend that is ex- The Runaways Cherie Currie – here in her first appearance in the recording studio since 1980.
Album opener “Greed Is God” is a great way to set the tone for the rest of the album with a dual vocal from Summers and Rachelle. One thing I also immediately notice is the sound of the recording which is right up there with their best in this style.
Next “Dear Mum” goes for a cool cock rock before “You’re Not Cinderella” kicks straight in with a drum intro, turning catchy when the full band joins and Rachelle does his stellar vocal performance.
First single from the album “Forever Ends Today” follows, a sweaty rocker plenty of swag with Steve Summers possibly sounding his best ever, while “Fiction & Reality” is another rocker that will no doubt get people fist pumping the air.
“Train To Hell” opens with the almost clichéd train sound which leads nicely into a somewhat slow burner of a song very reminiscent of a latter day Tuff, whilst “Rock ‘N Roll Girls” has as a dynamic true Rock ‘N Roll spirit driven by energetic riffs.
First ballad (and first Cherie Currie appearance) arrives with one of the highlights; “You’re Not Comin Home”. This song has appeared on many Shameless albums in various guises, here we have a stupendous midtempo melodic version including piano, akin a mid-eighties Heart style thanks to Cherie Currie’s interpretation recalling Ann Wilson.
If you don’t like glammy hard rock – and therefore much of this album – do yourself a favour and get this CD for this track alone.
Additionally, the other track featuring Currie, a cover of T. Rex’s classic “Life’s A Gas” is another pick of mine, a moody, quite bluesy version full of charm.
The album also offers another good cover; the timeless Alice Cooper classic “Eighteen” with Stevie Rachelle shining over a gentle piano display along with the acoustic guitaring creating an amazing climate.
While intentionally and shamelessly derivative of the genre, Shameless’ “Beautiful Disaster” is much more than a Sunset Strip sounding melodic hard/glam rock album.
Half of the songs go for a different direction; both Currie tracks (to be fair she absolutely steals the show), the Cooper cover and the ballad “Hold On To Your Dreams” balances this recording into a strongly melodic rock side.
A solid, very well recorded and produced disc, entertaining as a whole, with a couple of a must-listen tracks.
01 – Greed Is God (feat. Stevie Rachelle & Steve Summers)
02 – Dear Mum (feat. Cherie Currie)
03 – You’re Not Cinderella (feat. Stevie Rachelle)
04 – Forever Ends Today (feat. Steve Summers)
05 – Fiction & Reality (feat. Stevie Rachelle)
06 – You’re Not Comin Home (feat. Cherie Currie)
07 – Train to Hell (feat. Stevie Rachelle)
08 – Eighteen (feat. Stevie Rachelle)
09 – Hold on to Your Dreams (feat. Steve Summers)
10 – Rock ‘N Roll Girls (feat. Steve Summers)
11 – Life’s a Gas (feat. Cherie Currie)
Alexx “Skunk” Michael – Bass, Backing Vocals
Steve Summers, Stevie Rachelle, Cherie Currie – Vocals
BC, Keri Kelli, Andy Brings – Guitar
Teddy ZigZag – Keyboards
Tod T Burr – Drums