Savatage - 1986 Fight For The Rock

edited August 2 in year-1986

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ARTIST: Savatage
ALBUM: Fight For The Rock
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: 81634-1 (LP), 81634-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2011, Ear Music, 0206908ERE

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Jon Oliva - vocals, piano * Criss Oliva - guitar * Johnny Lee Middleton - bass * Steve 'Doc' Wacholz - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fight For The Rock * 02 Out On The Streets * 03 Crying For Love * 04 Day After Day * 05 The Edge Of Midnight * 06 Hyde * 07 Lady In Disguise * 08 She's Only Rock 'n' Roll * 09 Wishing Well * 10 Red Light Paradise

Background

The impetus Savatage created on their first two albums 'Sirens' and 'Power Of The Night' (and 1984's 'The Dungeons Are Calling' EP) was almost unstoppable.

The heaviness of the material propelled them to the forefront of the heavy metal scene that was unfolding so rampantly and it looked like they were destined for greatness.

Then of course came 'Fight for the Rock' which was a disaster that nearly sealed their fate permanently.

The tale behind this album has been told many times, with the band pressured into delivering a commercial product to fight for radio more than rock, let alone metal.

Listening to it 30 years after the fact it's easy to see why it was reviled by the fans, press and the band if only for the covers and clear attempts at chart territory.

It obscures some decent tracks which have been forgotten due to the long-standing negativity surrounding the album.

The Songs

If anything 'Power Of The Night' deserves a write up more than this album, but everyone is always attracted to a car wreck so to speak.

The title track isn't too far removed from their usual style, the riffs and chorus giving it mandatory anthem status.

'Out On The Streets' which first appeared on 'Sirens' in 1983, is retooled here as a fairly limp power ballad. This version fooled me into thinking I was listening to Triumph by comparison.

'Crying For Love' has all the elements of AOR, with a heavier edge, but still far removed from past glories for the band. It really is blatant and a total about-face from something like 'Necrophilia' or 'The Whip.'

Up next is the totally incomprehensible inclusion of the Badfinger cover 'Day After Day.' A great song indeed, but what was going on here? How did the band let themselves get manipulated into covering this and placing it on the album? This alone buries the album.

More acceptable is the brooding 'The Edge Of Midnight' which is in keeping with previous Savatage standards, as is the Victorian England inspired 'Hyde' despite the synths trying to conjure up images of misty streets, cobbled lanes and ale houses.

It's back to delusions of commercial grandeur with 'Lady In Disguise' which is utterly terrible. There's a glut of overblown pompous keyboards, almost a Queen impersonation and it reeks of pretentiousness.

'She's Only Rock and Roll' sounds like a totally different band and album, heavier, but with a melodic hook more in keeping with metal than the nonsense which preceded it.

It's back to square one with another cover, this time Free's 'Wishing Well.' Although it's well worked, it's still a horrendous blunder.

'Red Light Paradise' brings the madness to an end, but at least it's steeped in the bands classic sound. It shows the intent was still there and this album would have worked as an EP. perhaps if you remove the obvious attempts at commercialism.

In Summary

The album was received poorly by just about everyone and although the band stormed back with some impressive releases in 'Hall Of The Mountain King' and 'Gutter Ballet,' it seemed like the damage was done.

As stated this album isn't bad for the most part, but the tracks which are the prime offenders are so bad they taint all around it. Even now I can't comprehend 'Day After Day' and 'Lady In Disguise.'

One can only imagine what was going through the bands head as they recorded these tracks. The first three Savatage releases are where the magic is really to be found for me, with all those following paling in comparison.


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