SAIGON KICK – The Lizard [Rock Candy remaster +1] (2018)
Rock Candy reissue specialists have just ‘Remastered & Reloaded’ all three SAIGON KICK albums with bonus tracks. “The Lizard” is the band’s second effort, perhaps their most complete record and one from the early ’90s US melodic hard rock scene you need to own.
The initial CD, mis-press version plays ‘Suzy’ (track 4 from their debut album) instead of ‘Freedom’ (the proper track 4). This has been rectified by Rock Candy and this is the 2nd press, playing the correct track 4.
Listed by Rolling Stone Magazine among the ’50 Greatest Hair Metal Albums Of All Time’, “The Lizard” is in fact much more than that, plenty of elaborated arrangements and killer hooks.
In the not too distant past, record companies would signs artists and let them develop over a period of time. A good case in point was Saigon Kick.
Their debut album was greeted with positive reviews and sold a healthy amount of copies, giving Atlantic Records the confidence to push ahead and sanction a well-supported sophomore album, happy in the knowledge that the band was on an upwards trajectory.
With this kind of support, the Saigon Kick relished the opportunity to craft another record, an album that would show a refinement of their sound and style. This time around the emphasis was on finely honed songs, with far more mature arrangements, and memorable riffs and harmonies.
The band was perceived as operating in the melodic hard rock zone, which was quickly becoming obsolete for the music industry in the face of the developing grunge revolution.
But, like such fellow comrades as Skid Row, Love/Hate and Extreme, they managed to inject a degree of excitement into their music that actually gave them an edge over the fading late-Eighties hard rock scene.
Originally issued in 1992, produced by band leader Jason Bieler and recorded in Sweden, “The Lizard” contents easily eclipsed the quality of their debut album, showcasing a band with a much broader palate, focusing on sharp riffs and melodic hooks.
This approach was emphasised by the surprise hit single “Love Is On The Way”, hot at MTV and reaching #12 in the charts, a track that not only upped the band’s profile but also helped the album achieve gold status.
‘Love Is On The Way’ is a terrific ballad, however, not very indicative of the band’s overall sound.
With “The Lizard” Saigon Kick became one of my favorite bands from the era because the guitar work is in your face and strong like it should be in a Rock album. You can’t help but take notice to the monster riffs and screaming solos from Jason Bieler.
Style-wise, “The Lizard” screams Rock through every song, and goes through every level of the music, varied, always interesting, and manages to avoid clichés which in and of itself is reason enough to place Saigon Kick ahead of other pretenders in the music scene.
Production is incredible, the sound full and rich, and the vocal harmonies excellent.
The first track, the sinister instrumental “Cruelty,” starts the disc off followed by a faltering, fabulous chugging riff in “Hostile Youth.” The third and fourth tracks “Feel The Same Way” and “Freedom” each has the heavy guitar and melodic vocals that make the band such a treat and separates them from other hard rock bands.
“All Alright” deliver crushing Skid Row-esque metal riffage, same with the title-track “The Lizard” but here blended with off-kilter harmonies for great effect.
The light-speed tempo of “My Dog” gives way to the twisted “Peppermint Tribe” which picks up the pace with a machine gun riff and clever lyrics.
And of course there’s the wonderful “Love Is On The Way”, one of my favorite Rock ballads ever. This single nearly made it into the Top 10 and is the band’s defining moment of national US recognition. As a slow number the tune makes an impact because it features a pensive mood that avoids the traps of standard power ballads.
“The Lizard” is a terrific album. The daring, eclectic nature of the songwriting and adventuresome spirit makes Saigon Kick a remarkable band – it’s a shame that they never really got the attention it deserved.
Their sound is not to be and shouldn’t be compared to any other band from the era. They were unique.
This Rock Candy remaster is excellent, providing a crystal clear definition to an already pristine production.
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01 – Cruelty
02 – Hostile Youth
03 – Feel The Same Way
04 – Freedom
05 – God Of 42nd Street
06 – My Dog
07 – Peppermint Tribe
08 – Love Is On The Way
09 – The Lizard
10 – All Alright
11 – Sleep
12 – All I Want
13 – Body Bags
14 – Miss Jones
15 – World Goes Round
16 – Chanel
17 – Dear Prudence
Matt Kramer – vocals
Jason Bieler – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Tom Defile – bass
Phil Varone – drums, percussion
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