After the successful one-two punch of the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, Helloween lost guitarist Kai Hansen, who went on to form Gamma Ray, switched from Noise to EMI records, and added guitar player Roland Grapow. The resulting album after all this change was the controversial Pink Bubbles Go Ape, released in 1991. While many fans and critics alike probably wanted to hear a continuation of the power and progressive metal sounds heard on the Seven Keys albums, this was not to be the case, as this new release saw the band move in a much poppier and commerical direction. Lead singer Michael Kiske is in fine form throughout Pink Bubbles Go Ape, really shining on some of the mellower pieces like "Number One" (a sign of things to come perhaps?) but also shows his range on the heavier tunes like the tongue-in-cheek "Heavy Metal Hamsters" and the anthem "Kids of the Century".
Grapow fits in just fine here, and although the style of the music here is not the raging power metal fueled by an assortment of complex and melodic dual harmony guitar leads as in the past, he and Michael Weikath still throw in plenty of tasty solos and catchy riffs. Catchy cuts like "Goin' Home" and "Back on the Streets" are just damn good rock songs, and it's not really until "Someone's Crying" where the band lets their hair down and cranks out some speedy double bass drum work and lightning leads.
Overall, this ain't a bad album, just really different from what Helloween fans expected of them after three highly influential releases. Half the tunes are memorable and strong, the other sort of bland and forgettable. This reissue comes complete with an interview with Weikath who talks about the controversy surrounding the album, lyrics (although good luck reading them) and some fun b-sides as well. I'm giving this one a 3.5 on the strength of about five songs, which are quite good. The rest, well, your mileage may vary.
1. Pink Bubbles Go Ape
2. Kids of the Century
3. Back on the Streets
4. Number One
5. Heavy Metal Hamsters
6. Goin' Home
7. Someone's Crying
9. I'm Doin' Fine Crazy Man
10. The Chance
11. Your Turn
12. Blue Suede Shoes (single b-side)
13. Shit and Lobster (single b-side)
14. Les Hambourgeois (single b-side)
15. You Run With The Pack (single b-side)