Back in the 80’s (and early 90’s) there were some amazing debut albums released, and for me they were almost completely interdependent on each other, adding to the ideas that preceded them but all unique in some way. In truth none of the bands who released great debuts ever managed to completely recapture that first thrill and there are many reasons for that from record company meddling, changing line ups, or just the fact that the material on those first releases had been with the bands so long.
Over the coming months we’re going to revisit some of those classics – some like Tyketto’s ‘Don’t Come Easy’ have been repackaged and re-released over the years, but others are still languishing in the dark: half-forgotten classics that deserve to have the light shone on them again.
Where do you start with an album you have played countless times over the years, know every word, feel every chord and have such great memories sweeping around every song? I guess that is as good a place as any. Reviewing albums from your youth is hard though, fully understand that some albums have residual meaning due to their proximity to the great times of our youth, but damn some of those albums are just great too despite the extra layers of meaning e attribute to them.
Imagine the scene – I’m a teenager and I’m at a White Lion show and I’m more excited about the support band that is about to take the stage than in seeing Mike Tramp’s crew for the last time with that classic line-up. Why? Because I’d just bought ‘Don’t Come Easy’ by Tyketto.
The album was yet another Hard Rock release by Geffen who had their fair share of Rock artists. It had been released with little ceremony a few week before, sandwiched between two other Geffen releases – The Throbs ‘The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds’ and Junkyard’s second album ‘Sixes Sevens & Nines’ and just a few weeks before Tesla’s ‘Psychotic Supper’ and Warrior Soul’s ‘Drugs, Sex and the New Republic’. More telling though later in the year Guns N Roses released their ‘Use Your illusion’ double hit and still on the same label a little known Seattle band Nirvana dropped ‘Nevermind’.
So here we are at Rock City in Nottingham -it’s a hot June 5th 1991 and Tyketto take the stage to ‘Wings’ I still remember the look on Danny Vaughn’s face when he realized that everyone in the crowd was singing along. A brand new band supporting ‘Hair Metal’ greats White Lion on only their third date outside the US and everyone knows their songs. I don’t think I ever experienced that again in all my years, such an overwhelming crowd response.
The show of course was exceptional and White Lion gave them a decent 9 song support slot. At that show there was no ‘Burning Down Inside’ or ‘Standing Alone’ which as it happened were two of my favourite tracks, but it still somehow didn’t managed to dampen the mood. It was only the mid-set cover of Blackfoot’s ‘Train, Train’, that managed that, a great song but one that somehow seemed superfluous. Hell ‘Forever Young’ didn’t even close – that honour went to ‘Walk on Fire’.
Back to the album, which even after all these years I still see as the best melodic Hard Rock record of the era. Opener ‘Forever Young’ is just one of those songs that define a generation of fans, rather like ‘Youth Gone Wild’ by Skid Row it was an anthem to affirm your love of Hard Rock and all that entailed. A song to raise a glass to, a song to drive to, the love to, to live by. Class.
‘Wings’ at the time seemed rather risky had it not been so damned perfect dropping the Harder edge and layering the melodies could have been a disaster, years later when you listen in its original form, or even stripped back and acoustic, its just a beautiful song, a life affirming clear blue sky type song that always makes me smile.
Whilst the meat of the album may not be on such a grand pedestal, the songs themselves are remarkably consistent, rich and even varied, hinting at what the band would come up with next. ‘Burning Down Inside’ one of my favourite tracks still is a case in point – in essence it’s very ‘Pop’ but has that swagger and wonderful cascading chorus with just a hint of despair, that sells it completely. ‘Seasons’ like ‘Wings’ before it works the contrast well, it’s lighter, breezier and an absolute triumph.
And as you get deeper you get more ensnared: ‘Standing Alone’ (the third single from the album) is the ballad that soars and sizzles and wrings out the tears, before we get back to the fun and grind of ‘Lay Your Body Down’, perhaps the track most derivative of the ‘Hair Metal’ scene here. ‘Walk on Fire’ keeps the upbeat thrust of ‘…Body’ but adds a nice acoustic opening burst before the one track I can live without ‘Nothing But Love’ lays its gentle melodies down. Its the sort of song that would have stood out on any other album of the period, and that is one of the reasons ‘Don’t Come Easy’ rates so highly.
There’s even a touch of blues to ‘Strip Me Down’ which rests on a nice harmonica infused intro before it breaks out all funky and drives it home. The album closes with ‘Sail Away’ a song like ‘Seasons’ and ‘Standing Alone’ that showcases the lightness and subtlety of the band. It’s a nice upbeat closer, a tale of hope and one of the many tracks that underlines what a wonderful vocalist Danny Vaughn was and is.
What matters most of course with any classic album is the songs and here ‘Don’t Come Easy’ stands the test of time. For a Rock album of its era the production too is remarkably crisp, the mix nicely balanced, and Vaughn’s voice is allowed to shine without overpowering the instrumentation. It’s an album I’ve always loved and probably always will, and one of the few records from the late 80’s/early 90’s that doesn’t seem to ‘follow’. This is Melodic Hard Rock at its finest.
What happened next of course everyone knows. Despite decent sales especially in the US and UK two events took place that conspired to foil Tyketto even as they were on the rise – Guns N Roses released their ‘Use Your illusion’ double hit and all the publicity slipped away with it and Nirvana released ‘Nevermind’ and the record label execs ran after the cash till they ate themselves…
And best of all – In 2017 Tyketto is thankfully doing just great thank you.