Mean Streak

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Following the unexpected commercial underachiever that was their fourth album, Black Tiger, San Francisco's Y&T were reeling in confusion. All had seemed rosy back in 1981, when their comeback effort, Earthshaker, had been heralded as an instant classic by media and fans alike; but its successor had lacked both substance and energy by comparison, leaving the group uncertain of what to try next. Making sure to rediscover the edgy guitar tones of old for 1983's Mean Streak was a good start, but inconsistent songwriting continued to plague Y&T, who, as usual, fell way short of replicating the power of their live performances in a studio setting. Mean Streak's title track opened the proceedings in promising enough fashion, its raw energy and aggressive riffing making it one of the band's strongest singles yet. But the very next cut, "Straight Through the Heart," quickly ground everything to a halt with its flattened sonics and lurching rhythm; it took two, very tastefully executed power ballads like "Lonely Side of Town," and "Midnight in Tokyo" to salvage Side One. Side Two got under way with the competent, if rather tame "Breaking Away," only to mar a couple of commendable attempts at re-ignition in "Hang 'Em High," and "Sentimental Fool" (see its classy guitar harmonies) with the terrifying cock rock drivel of "Take You to the Limit" and "Down and Dirty." In the end, Mean Streak was another unbalanced outing that left most hard rock fans nonplussed, and serious Y&T supporters, who knew what the band was capable of, sorely disappointed.

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