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Tygers Of Pan Tang: The Wreck-Age/Burning In the Shade 1985-1987 (Expanded Editions)

By 1985 not only was it clear that the NWOBHM had begun grinding to a halt, but that one of its best exponents were also going through changes. Having effectively split three years earlier, Tygers of Pan Tang returned with The Wreck-Age and only singer Jon Deverill and drummer Brian Dick still amongst their ranks from before. Taking on the enviable task of following Rob Weir and John Sykes (although Sykes had already been replaced by Fred Purser prior to ’82) as the band’s twin guitar attack was Steve Lamb and Neil Sheperd (there’s a one man and his dog joke in there somewhere…). However, arguably it was the keyboards of non-band members Steve Thompson and Ian Curnow that made people really sit up and wonder what had happened, because this wasn’t an ingredient expected to be found in the Tygers’ sound, never mind it now being one of their strongest flavours. With the band rounded out by bassist Dave Donaldson, this was a new ToPT and no doubt. Sounding more like a mix between Magnum and Tobruk, the change in approach did admittedly put them right in the middle of a scene that was on the up and up, but make no bones about it, fans of this outfit’s previous output must have been a little confused by what they were hearing. That said, fire up the album’s title track and twin fret-fury undoubtedly abounds and to great effect, while Deverill feels right at home in this more melodic setting. Cuts like the smooth and sparkling “Women In Cages” and utterly urgent “Waiting” still possessed a real Tygers’ bite, and while this might not quite have been what people were anticipating it still made for a solid, hugely enjoyable album - even if the cover art/photo was pretty horrific.

If existing fans had maybe been a little taken aback by the lack of oomph on The Wreck-Age, 1987’s Burning In The Shade must have left them positively bewildered. I mean, it’s maybe unfair to start there, but if you dip into this album at track five, “Maria”, it’s difficult not to come to the conclusion that you’ve stumbled on Spandau Ballet recording a West End musical - to say that this release was sickly sweet would be kind. Between albums guitarist Neil Sheperd had moved on, while the still not a band-member Steve Thompson wasn’t just dominating the whole shebang with his keyboards, but now added bass to his repertoire, Dave Donaldson also having departed. In truth, while Steve Lamb still got to peel off the occasionally ripping guitar solo, he was pushed into a supporting role here and while I’ll happily admit to having barrowloads of AOR and keyboard led melodic rock in my collection, Burning In The Shade could hardly be seen as the most invigorating collection of songs ever created in that style. Finding highlights is a tall order, although “The First (The Only One)” and “Hideaway” were both good fun.

Disc three in this Cherry Red/HNE box set will be an interesting addition for Tygers completists, with it bringing together some 17 demos from the sessions for both of the main albums contained here. That said, in my estimation only true devotees will revisit them often, because if The Wreck-Age is less forceful than was anticipated at the time and Burning In The Shade takes that a step or ten further, the demos hit almost like some 80s funk-electro-pop outfit who didn’t even contain the merest hint of a cutting edge. Personally, I can’t see myself listening to them ever again.

With the reception from fans and critics alike less than lukewarm to Burning In The Shade, it’s maybe not too much of a surprise that this two album comeback came abruptly to a halt almost as soon as it was released. Tygers of Pan Tang would, of course, return some 12 years later, but tellingly none of the band members to be found on either of these two albums were anywhere to be seen as the ToPT reverted back to a sound much closer to that which they made their name with.

It’s almost a shame that The Wreck-Age is, quite rightly, lumped in with the album that follows it here (they are linked both through era, line-up and (almost) sound after all) because as a stand alone release it still holds up as a pretty good melodic hard rock album. Unfortunately, I can’t really say that about Burning From The Inside.

Track Listing
DISC ONE: The Wreck-Age (1985)
1. Waiting

2. Protection

3. Innocent Eyes

4. Desert Of No Love

5. The Wreck-Age

6. Women In Cages

7. Victim

8. Ready To Run

9. All Change Faces

10. Forgive And Forget

DISC TWO: Burning In The Shade (1987)
1. The First (The Only One)

2. Hit It

3. Dream Ticket

4. Sweet Lies

5. Maria
6 Hideaway

7. Open To Seduction

8. The Circle Of The Dance

9. Are You There

10. The Memory Fades

DISC THREE: Demos - 
The Wreck-Age Demos

1. Forgive And Forget
2. Not Guilty

3. Undercurrent

4. The Wreck-Age

5. You’re On Your Own

6. Time To Regret

7. Slow Recovery

8. The Face Of Innocence

9. Shadow Of The Past

10. Waiting
Burning In the Shade Demos

11. Are You There?

12. The Circle Of The Dance

13. Don’t Think I Could Leave

14. Hideaway

15. Hit It

16. Never Say Never

17. The Memory Fades

Added: July 10th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Tygers of Pan Tang @ Cherry Red
Hits: 500
Language: english

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