The Right to Rock

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Keel's second album, 1985's The Right to Rock, may as well have been their first. Hardly anyone had noticed the fledgling hair metal outfit's first effort of a year earlier, but one of the ones who did happened to be Kiss legend Gene Simmons, who must have seen dollar signs where others could not when he decided to take the band under his bat-wing. For their part, Keel couldn't have asked for a more motivated Svengali to mould their second album, which, was not only produced by Simmons himself, but saw the band's logo re-fashioned into a simple, angular design coincidentally reminiscent of -- who else? -- Kiss. As to its actual contents, The Right to Rock was of course led off by the very title track that would become Keel's trademark, bust down the doors to MTV rotation, and ultimately endure as their biggest hit. And with good reason, for as irrepressibly anthemic as it was colossally stupid, the song was nevertheless perfectly tailored to the emerging pop-metal market; instantly landing Keel their no doubt dreamt of full-page spreads in Circus magazine, and, in the eyes of their hairspray 'n' spandex-loving crowd, unofficially branding them "little brothers" to scene leaders Mötley Crüe and Ratt. As for the rest of the album, well, it didn't really matter now, did it? But, for the record, competent hard rockers like "Back to the City," "Electric Love" and semi-metallic racers like "Speed Demon" and "You're the Victim (I'm the Crime)" are pulled off competently enough -- their fist-pumping energy nestling comfortably amidst the period's L.A. set. And what truly embarrassing, cock rock drivel does crop up (see the laughable "So Many Girls, So Little Time," the unbearably mindless plod-metal stomp "Get Down," and band's useless cover of the Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together") isn't really that offensive, given the circumstances of the time. Through it all, Simmons' all-seeing presence also imprints itself on the album's economical, Kiss-tested template: ten songs which rarely run over the four-minute mark, and conclude in just over half an hour. In sum, even though its 1986 successor, The Final Frontier, would arguably top it for sheer consistency, The Right to Rock is likely to stand as Keel's definitive statement.

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