Having so obviously worshipped at the altar of Mott the Hoople for much of their career, it's little surprise that for their fourth album Hanoi Rocks went straight to the source, getting both Dale Buffin Griffin and Pete "Overend" Watts to produce Back to Mystery City. Whatever else they brought to the sessions, the duo makes Hanoi Rocks sound like a much more powerful band than before; compared to Self Destruction Blues, the riffs are more explosive, the drumming pounding, and Michael Monroe is in full swing. The aura of '50s rave-up, '70s glam party, and '80s hard rock chaos that the band made their own sounds even better than before, but the production duo also made even more room for intriguing experiments within the songs themselves. Thus, the full-on glam stomp, mock-Burundi drums, and animal noises during the merry romp "Tooting Bec Wreck" (one of many Hanoi Rocks songs paying homage to home-away-from-home London), or the clearly obvious "Mony Mony" steal from the title track, with reverbed vocals working wonders. One thing's for sure: calling the first song "Strange Boys Play Weird Openings," and having it be a mock rustic folk song -- with acoustic guitars, flutes, and chirping birds -- is a great way to have fun. More so, admittedly, when things suddenly kick into the brilliant rocker "Malibu Beach Nightmare." Other songs, like "Beating Gets Faster" and "Ice Cream Summer" (gratuitous misogyny aside), may be more Hanoi Rocks by-the-numbers, but it's a good enough pattern to follow. In their own way, they weren't so much pioneers as followers of a style that not many attempted at the time. They get extra points, as well, for having one of the more entertainingly crude song titles around: "Lick Summer Love."
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett