Demolition 23

Demolition 23

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While Demolition 23 is technically a band effort, this is really a Michael Monroe solo album. Once again working with producer and co-writer Little Steven Van Zandt, Monroe dispenses with the hair metal affectation and goes straight for the punk rock jugular. Monroe also emerges as a songwriter on this album, a trend that would continue with his next releases. Demolition 23 grew out of a series of shows at the Grand in New York, billed as Michael Monroe & Friends. With the same lineup as on the album (including former Hanoi Rocks bassman Sam Yaffa) augmented by Little Steven and Joey Ramone, the band tore through a bunch of originals, and the usual helping of Johnny Thunders, Dead Boys, and Ramones covers. The lyrics on this album are generally the best to date for Monroe. Tales of alienation like "Nothin's Alright" and "Dysfunctional" sit right alongside stories of loss such as "The Scum Lives On," a song about his dead buddies, most notably Thunders and Stiv Bators. Monroe sneers, "(M)y misery's without company/My partner's in crime have been taken from me/We used to laugh about our legacy/Couldn't get arrested on MTV." Don't worry, boredom also gets an airing in "Same Shit Different Day," a catchy rocker whose title says it all. Of course, there are a couple of great covers here as well. This time out, Monroe smokes the Dead Boys' "Ain't Nothin' to Do" and Thunders' "I Wanna Be Loved," as well as a blistering version of the U.K. Subs' "Endangered Species." When Monroe sings, "We can blow you all to pieces," it sounds like he means it. This is a really solid effort, breathing life into a style that is rarely pulled off these days: hook-filled punk rock (with a few hard rock flourishes) played and sung with verve and skill, by people who understand and appreciate what they are doing rather than just going along with the program. If you always wondered why Little Steven looks like a punk, check this one out.

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