One of the more underrated acts of the late-'80s power metal movement, California's Vicious Rumors suffered a brutal blow when vocalist Carl Albert was killed in a car accident in April 1995. Founder and lead guitarist Geoff Thorpe did his best to find a replacement, even taking over vocal duties himself on 1996's Something Burning, but nobody ever came close to matching Albert's powerful Rob Halford-meets-Bruce Dickenson wail. Originally released in 1992, Plug In and Hang On: Live in Tokyo was recorded at Club Citta' Kawasaki, Kawasaki, Japan, and is the result of two shows recorded for Atlantic during the group's Welcome to the Ball tour, and like Judas Priest's classic Unleashed in the East, it's a snapshot of a band that was truly beginning to come into their own. Everything that metalheads miss from the era is here, whether it's staccato, machine gun guitar ("Exciter"), Whitesnake balladry ("When Love Comes Down") or 11-minute epics that use half of their running time for a drum solo ("Lady Took a Chance"). What makes most of it work is the band's road-tight execution and Albert's electrifying vocals. It's a shame that the group gets lumped into the hair metal scene, as their sonic assault was much more Accept than it was Faster Pussycat, and far more memorable as well. Live in Tokyo may not solidify Vicious Rumors as legendary, but it reenforces their well-deserved seat amongst the heavy metal elite.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger