Review: Mad Anthony – Party Heaven Hell Whatever!
Eonian Records (November 1st 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, Mad Anthony was an unsigned band from the mid-80s that had the chops to be huge but did not have the right timing or luck of their more successful contemporaries. This collection of songs that were recorded at the time but never officially released is hoping to show why they could have been as big as any band that came out of the LA hard rock scene. So is this an undiscovered treasure that is finally seeing the light of day or is it a band who is all talk but little to show for it?
It’s actually both, but the positives do outweigh the negatives. If you are hoping for some really strong early 90s grooves untarnished by time, then this album will check all the right boxes. The downside is the band utilizes cliched lyrical tropes that (at the time) were crass, but with the passing of time, have remained crass but sound dated and tired.
Let’s start with the positives, and there are plenty. The album gets off to a powerful start with ‘Just My Type’. It has the right kind of dark and sleazy vibe that brings me back to the time I first heard bands like Babylon A.D., Wildside, and XYZ’s Hungry album. A definite early 90s vibe that also carries over into tracks like ‘Mother’s Helper’ and ‘Face To Lace’, both with awesome gang vocals in the chorus. Then there’s a tonal change for some songs where there’s more of an emphasis on love and relationships rather than sleazy sex. ‘Stay With Me’, ‘When We Touch’, and the sole ballad ‘Falling Out of Love’ were written and designed to tell the girls in the audience that these bad boys cared about more than just sex (sure they did!). All joking aside, all of these songs are really solid representations of the era right before the bottom dropped out around 1992.
The album does have a few drawbacks, the biggest being the juvenile lyrics. If you’re a big fan of the first two Poison albums (as I am), this won’t necessarily be an issue, but what was fresh back then is incredibly cliched now. Lots of references about sex and double entendres. ‘Big Ole Long Red Hot Rod’ is supposedly about a car (sure it is!), with references about driving 69 MPH. How original. ‘Face To Lace’ throws out this Shakespearean line: “I like to fuck!”. I wonder how long it took the singer to come up with that gem? Finally, ‘Backstage Boogie’ tries to rhyme “Do She” with “Boogie”. I listened to this track several times trying to figure out what singer Rik Bernal was saying, as “Do She” isn’t really a saying, but in the end, all I kept hearing was “Douchey”. Completely ruins the song.
A few other notable critiques. ‘I’m the One’ borrows a little too heavily from George Lynch’s finger tapping on Dokken’s ‘It’s Not Love’. ‘Nadine’ is a 45 second acoustic interlude placed at the very end of the album and serves no purpose. It should have been attached to the beginning of one of the songs or left off the album altogether. ‘Rock Me’ is a great little ditty but does have a noticeable drop in production quality and was obviously recorded somewhere other than where the rest of the tracks were recorded. Production wise, for what seems to be an independent recording financed by the band back in the day, the quality is remarkably good and sounds slightly unrefined, but recorded utilizing decent equipment.
I came to discover my love for music in the late 80s and early 90s, right smack in the middle of my high school years. The best compliment I can say about this release is it feels like an album that I just discovered that was released back when I was picking up new albums from Trouble Tribe and Sleeze Beez. If you dug the sound of those early 90s hard rock bands, then this album is for you. Too bad this band somehow missed the boat, but better late than never. It’s a definite purchase for me.
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