Michael Monroe, the stage name of Matti Antero Kristian Fagerholm founder and frontman of the iconic glam punk band Hanoi Rocks, (formed when he was a teenager back in 1979) has just released his ninth studio album One Man Gang via Silver Lining Music. The talented Mr Monroe not only sings but plays the saxophone and the harmonica on this album, (as well as a mini orchestra of other instruments, although not all on this album).
The album was recorded and mixed at E-Studio in Sipoo, Finland and engineered by Petri MajuriBigger. Produced by Michael and fellow band members Rich Jones and Steve Conte.
Bigger than your average Finn, (as in taller), with enough energy to power the whole country for the foreseeable future will his latest album reach the dizzy heights that any gig goer encounters when looking up at Mr Monroe as he struts and pouts across the boards?
Well, opening and title track. One Man Gang with Captain Sensible guesting on lead guitar starts with a drawn out ‘Well’, which would have made Lulu want to Shout! Add in a twist of My Chemical Romance, a pinch of The Kopek Millionaires and out comes One Man Gang as he runs to catch the Last Train To Tokyo and just makes it in time to power along through a catchy rhythm and beat, but unable to find his way home he ends up on Junk Planet with Captain Sensible’s influence shining through, think The Damned’s New Rose meets JoBoxers‘ Boxerbeat. Midsummer Nights in the Summer of ’69 with Bryan Adams? The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider mean ‘We don’t get Champagne on the rider’ and ‘It ain’t a long way to the bottom’.
Wasted Years a mellower song has former Hanoi Rocks guitarist Nasty Suicide guesting on lead guitar before the heartfelt In The Tall Grass which had me thinking something along the lines of Thirty Seconds to Mars with David Bowie on lead vocals. The tempo racks up again for Black Ties and Red Tape with it’s punky fast beat. Hollywood Paranoia then takes over with an ooh an ah and a manic laugh leading into the lyrics.
Michael then dons his red Matador cape for Heaven Is A free State, with Tero Saarti, ‘the funkiest trumpeter in Finland’ adding the brass. The penultimate song Helsinki Shakedown about life on the road ‘we got four hundred miles to go‘ …… ‘but we’re never going to change the life we know‘ then we come the final song the melodic Low Life in High Places, which has a touch of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about it. Listen closely for Eicca Toppinen adding some mellow Cello to this closing song.
Well, it starts with a ‘well’ which makes you want to shout, or at least sing along, as you’re taken through a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. High octane punky rock n roll numbers interspersed with slower, deeper ballads. Five stars for Michael Monroe and his ‘One Man Gang’ – of five!
If you like what you hear you don’t have to wait too long to see some of these songs performed live as Michael Monroe’s One Man Gang European Tour 2019 starts in Oslo next week and finishes with a slot at Hard Rock Hell Chapter XIII in Great Yarmouth.
Track Listing: –
1. One Man Gang
2. Last Train To Tokyo
3. Junk Planet
4. Midsummer Nights
5. The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider
6. Wasted Years
7. In The Tall Grass
8. Black Ties And Red Tape
9. Hollywood Paranoia
10. Heaven Is A Free State
11. Helsinki Shakedown
12. Low Life In High Places
Line Up: –
Michael Monroe – vocals, sax and harmonica
Rich Jones – guitar and vocals
Steve Conte – guitar and vocals
Sami Yaffa – bass
Karl Rockfist – drums