Keel - 1986 The Final Frontier

DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
edited August 2 in year-1986

ALBUM: The Final Frontier
LABEL: MCA Records/Gold Mountain
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2019, Rock Candy, CANDY410


LINEUP: Ron Keel - vocals, guitar, keyboards * Marc Ferrari - guitar * Bryan Jay - guitar * Kenny Chaisson - bass * Dwain Miller - drums

Additional Musicians: Jamie St. James - backing vocals (02) * Michael Des Barres - vocals (06) * Joan Jett - guitar (06) * Mitch Perry - guitar (08) * Gregg Giuffria - backing vocals (10)

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Final Frontier * 02 Rock And Roll Animal * 03 Because The Night * 04 Here Today, Gone Tomorrow * 05 Arm And A Leg * 06 Raised On Rock * 07 Just Another Girl * 08 Tears Of Fire * 09 Nightfall * 10 No Pain No Gain

RATING: image



'The Final Frontier' is Keel's third album and their first for the MCA label after switching over from A&M, once again produced by Gene Simmons as the previous one 'The Right To Rock'.

For those who have not yet heard the band, frontman Ron Keel might be the greatest screamer ever in the US Hard Rock annals, no irony whatsoever.

While Keel the band sounds like the love child of KISS and Judas Priest whom inherited the melodies of the former and the dual guitar attack of the latter.

My reference to Keel on Stryper's same-year 'To Hell With The Devil' review just tried to exemplify how torrid Michael Sweet's performance was, no offense to Keel intended.

The Songs

Simmons follows his 80's production pattern we had previously heard on 'The Right To Rock', I mean big drums and an edgy sound, just brighter this time while the way the guitars cut into the mix is 80's 101: raw, sharp and primal.

Just listen to the guitar solos on 'Arm And A Leg' and 'Raised On Rock' as clear examples.

There's a list of guests as usual with the Demon, only on this occasion perhaps it worked out better than in his own 1978 solo album.

The pounding title track and a blazing 'Rock And Roll Animal' (with a nod to Thin Lizzy's 'Cold Sweat' riff) open the proceedings.

Two singles were cut off the album. The cover of Bruce Springsteen/Patti Smith 'Because The Night' has all the Keel flavor while the Dokkenish power ballad 'Tears Of Fire' features gorgeous string arrangements.

The AOR leanings of the road-tales 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow' and 'Just Another Girl' fulfill the melodic requirements.

Undoubtedly Heavy Metal, the fist-pumping 'Raised On Rock' includes a fine vocal counterpoint between the unleashed Ron and former Detective singer Michael Des Barres.

We also have the furious Metal assault of 'Arm And A Leg' and the pacy USPM of closer 'No Pain No Gain', the latter preceded by the Medieval-tinged acoustic instrumental 'Nightfall' and arguably Keel's fastest song ever.

In Summary

'The Final Frontier' reached #53 on the Billboard 200 and charted for 18 weeks, the band's bestseller ever with around 500,000 copies sold.

A 6-week, 14-country European trip supporting Dio's 'Sacred Heart' tour followed, as opening slots for Van Halen, Aerosmith and Queensryche amongst others did as well as a headlining tour of Japan.

This might be Keel's pinnacle based upon consistency, variety and powerful performance, although each one of their four 1980's decade studio albums goes recommended.

A couple of additional facts. Ron Keel had been announced as Black Sabbath's new singer in late March of 1984 at producer Spencer Proffer's suggestion. His stint lasted for a few days, although he was never officially fired.

Also, guitarist Marc Ferrari wrote, produced and played on the song 'Proud To Be Loud', from Pantera's 1988 'Power Metal' album.

Streaming Links



Keel - Because The Night

Keel - Tears Of Fire

Keel - Rock And Roll Animal

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    Decent album from the era, surprised this wasn't reviewed earlier. Alun where were you?
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    Not sure mate! This is a great album. Always loved it. It doesn’t get any better than ‘No Pain, No Gain.’
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    edited May 2020
    I remember reading about Steeler in either Sounds or a fanzine, it had an address so I wrote to them. Sometime later I got a copy of A Cold Day in Hell single through the post. Something happened with Twisted Sister I got sent Bad boys of Rockn Roll and under the blade singles on Twisted Sister records, plus a letter from JAy Jay French. If only I still had them now.
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