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Keel: The Right To Rock

Although they are not really spoken about much these days, Keel were for a short time, a major player in the American Metal scene. Fronted by ex Steeler singer Ron Keel and featuring the blazing axe talents of Marc Ferrari, Keel were a raw, heavy, down and dirty crew who were happy to rip into uncompromising, hard hitting riff laden rock. The Right To Rock was the band's major label debut and in fact provided A&M Records with their fastest selling debut release, although Keel had released Lay Down The Law on Shrapnel Records in 1984 a year before this disc saw the light of day. Production was supplied the mighty Gene Simmons after Keel sang to backing tapes in the Kiss bassists hotel room (I have to say re-listening to this album I was struck by the remarkable similarity to Black N Blue's Nasty Nasty album, which a certain Mr Simmons also twiddled knobs on). Whilst never one of my favourite producers, Simmons did seem to manage to coax a rough and ready sound from the artists he worked with and even on this excellently remastered release, the urgency and bight of youth are right at the forefront of these songs.

Kicking off with the title track and possibly the band's most recognised song, it's easy to hear why The Right To Rock made enough of an impact to break the Billboard top 100. Ron's vocals are tough and gruff, however he possesses bags of character and the sort of ballsy performance so many of today's pretenders can only dream of. Having said that there's no denying that the band's real secret weapon is the phenomenal six string playing of Ferrari, hearing this now, there's no doubt he was ahead of his time and should be spoken about as a true innovator of metal. Whether it's the razor sharp riff of "Speed Demon" or frenetic licks on "You're The Victim (I'm The Crime)" his style is hugely engaging and still feels fresh some 25 years down the line.

Simmons leaves an undoubted mark on the album, with writing credits on "Easier Said Than Done", "So Many Girls, So Little Time" and "Get Down", which all sound like tracks from Gene's day job and would have easily style wise sat on either Lick It Up or Animalize, right down to Keel delivering a very "demonesque" vocal performance on all three. Ironically it's one of these three that is one of the few dips on the album, as it's easy to see why "Get Down" was passed over by Kiss.

The remastering of the tracks breathes new life into an already classy set of tunes, however the bonus songs really add little to the release as the remixed version of "Easier Said Than Done" is no improvement on the proper version and the 25th anniversary rerecording of the song "The Right To Rock" smoothes all the edges off the original and lacks the raw appeal that made it such a great song in the first place. Putting those tracks aside The Right To Rock has a place in any serious rock collection and hopefully this welcome reissue will see it regain the recognition it deserves.

Track Listing
1. The Right To Rock
2. Back To The City
3. Let's Spend The Night Together
4. Easier Said Than Done
5. So Many Girls, So Little Time
6. Electric Love
7. Speed Demon
8. Get Down
9. You're The Victim (I'm The Crime)
10. Easier Said Than Done (remix)
11. The Right To Rock (remix)

Added: January 13th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Band's Web Site
Hits: 2581
Language: english

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