Bow Wow

Asian Volcano

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As indicated by the violent eruption depicted on its cover art, 1982's Asian Volcano marked Bow Wow's categorical return to the heavy rock style that launched their career, following a series of befuddling mainstream pop albums and the mixed messages parlayed by the previous year's schizophrenic Hard Dog LP. Yes, Asian Volcano still housed the necessary evil of a token ballad ("Take Me Away"), a gentle but hardly offensive classical guitar indulgence ("Canon of Manon"), and a mambo-flavored oddity for a coda ("Sinner Sinner Sinner"), but in every other respect, Bow Wow seemed ready to bang their heads once again. (Perhaps it helped that the craft they'd gone to such pains to perfect during their early glory days was now taking the world by storm.) Proof of this lay in a clutch of electrifying, fretboard-burning workouts like the frantic (if rather repetitive) "In My Image," the classy, anthemic "Touch Me, I'm on Fire," the surprisingly tough "Don't Cry Baby" (which recalled vintage Y&T and featured a Spanish guitar solo midway through!), and the driving "Devil Woman" (boasting some of the band's best written English lyrics yet). In the end, the worst thing one could say about these efforts was that Bow Wow now seemed to be following recent developments more so than setting new trends. Certainly, all of the pundits who had once laid Eddie Van Halen's groundbreaking guitar tricks at Kyoji Yamamoto's feet were forced to eat their words in light of this album's VH-1 inspired good-time opener "Hard Rock Tonight." Nevertheless, there were very few fans bothering to complain about such details in the face of their heroes' renewed hard rock vigor, which would gratefully persist over ensuing releases.

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