Helix

Walkin' the Razor's Edge

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Released hot on the heels of their strong major-label debut, No Rest for the Wicked, 1984's Walkin' the Razor's Edge was Helix's fourth album and brought the hard-working Canadian quintet -- at the time already celebrating almost a decade of activity, amazingly enough -- to the very cusp of mainstream recognition. Unfortunately, it couldn't quite push them over the edge, though (peaking at number 69 on the Billboard charts), despite boasting a balanced set of muscular, self-penned heavy rockers and anthemic singles culled from outside songwriters that were seemingly tailor-made for American radio. Among the former were riff-powered vehicles like "Young and Wreckless" [sic], "When the Hammer Falls," and "My Kind of Rock" recalling early-‘80s Judas Priest at their commercial best (think simplistic but infectious numbers like "Heading Out to the Highway," "You've got Another Thing Comin'," etc.), and these became fast favorites among the group's heavy rock-loving supporters. Among the latter were the album's opening cheerleader chant of "Rock You" (a number by Priest collaborator Bob Halligan, Jr. that was virtually all chorus, no set-up), a reworked 1969 hit for obscure Canadian bubblegum outfit Crazy Elephant named "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" (for which a racy video featuring a topless, then 16-year-old Traci Lords, was shot for airing on the Playboy Channel), and a sleepy ballad named "(Make Me do) Anything You Want" (another Canadian rock relic originally released by A Foot in Cold Water) -- all of which ultimately performed short of label expectations. These also revealed Helix's Achilles' heel: their songwriting limitations, something that no amount of drive or live experience on the band's résumé could overcome. And still, Walkin' the Razor's Edge was quickly certified platinum in Canada with sales exceeding 100,000 copies, and moved another 400,000 units in the U.S.; had it not suffered from internal restructuring and inconsistent support from Helix's then record label, Capitol, there's no telling how far Helix could have gone in their career. [Reissued in 2009 by Rock Candy Records, Walkin' the Razor's Edge was augmented with three live recordings captured at the band's January 1985 performance at London's legendary Marquee Club.]

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