Return Of The Great Gildersleeves

MTM Music
Produced by: Danger Danger

Released: February 23 / Website
Closest Relative: Van Hagar
GENRE: Hard Rock

  1. Intro
  2. Grind
  3. When She's Good
  4. Six Million Dollar Man
  5. She's Gone
  6. Dead Drunk & Wasted
  7. Dead Dog
  8. I Do
  9. My Secret
  10. Cherry Cherry
  11. Get In The Ring
  12. Walk It Like You Talk It

After taking the 90's route on the album Dawn, with new singer Paul Laine, Danger Danger returned to what they do best on the now classic Four The Hard Way album.
But things were different. In place of Ted Poley, Paul Laine had brought to Danger Danger what Sammy Hagar brought to Van Halen. A move to a more serious sound and approach, mixing the anthem like rockers of their first two albums with a more modern sound that had touches of Dawn and also elements of Paul Laine's Bon Jovi/Def Leppard like solo album.
That album was an absolute classic. I played that album non stop for a long long time. Not since I received Giant's Time To Burn and House Of Lords' Demon's Down in the same package on day in 1992 had anything monopolized the stereo to such a degree.
That was until I got Return Of The Great Gildersleeves in the mail. I have had this advance CD for nearly 5 months now. So this review can be taken very seriously. This album has been played and played and played again.
This is the band's best album. Ever.
Why? Because it takes all the elements that made Four a classic and improves everyone of them.
The production is better, tighter. The songs flow like an un-damned river - fast, furious, at times a little more laid back, but always with the same purpose. To get the listener to the end of the album and have them start it again.
I remember my first half a dozen spins of the album. It sounded like the band had once again mixed between the modern and the classic. Four The Hard Way did this. Modern songs like Jaded, Heartbreak Suicide, Sick Little Twisted Mind to classic hard rockers like Going All The Way and Goin' Goin' Gone.
This album has the same effect, but after you get to know the songs, they flow effortlessly between the styles like never before. It's so smooth. It's a hard thing to get right, but believe me the guys have it spot on here.
Another thing you will notice is the amount of sound effects in the music. The intro has them, Six Million Dollar Man has them everywhere, When She's Good also...This is stuff Def Leppard tried on Hysteria to great effect and it has to be said that it is also done superbly here. Not intrusive, but noticeable and enhancing to the songs. Just another facet of what a great production job has been done on this record.
Bruno Ravel plays all over this and Steve West's drums are like a hammer beating you around the head. It is truly a monster sound.
After a short effects filled into Grind explodes in your face with some of the hardest hard edge guitar riffing I have heard from the guys. Immediately it hits you what a killer voice Paul Laine is. Why isn't this man a worldwide God? His voice is sharper than ever, smoother and more powerful. In fact, in the beginning I was left wondering where he trademark snarl had gone. On Gildersleeves, Paul Laine sings smoother and more controlled than ever, his voice even more powerful. There is no need for the rasp. It is there, for sure, but in singing his ass off, it's just not needed.
Grind is a moody hard hitting rocker in the vein of Goin' Goin' Gone and Still Kicking. Huge.
When She's Good is one of a couple of tunes from the Cockroach album. And believe me, this leaves Cockroach for dead. Heavier, tougher, punchier, grungier, dirtier and a far superior production. Plus effects, layers and harmony vocals 10 layers deep. The chorus is lush. Check out the bridge half way through the song. Def Leppard couldn't have done better.
Six Million Dollar Man is a song that grows on you. There is a spoken word intro that leads into an effects filled guitar intro. The song is one of the more 90's flavored tracks on the album, but features a great vocal. This is the type of song that will take melodic rock into this new century. Love the end of the song!
And from three hard hitting opening tracks, She's Gone, featuring a new age effects intro, smolders into a moody and introspective ballad, with layers of harmony vocals and backing effects. They keyboard accompaniment is awesome. Paul's vocals are moody and lonely, this song is a real piece of work. The chorus takes some getting to, but once you get there, you won't forget it.
So the song is ending, the tears are dwelling in your eyes, what next?
Well, it's Dead Drunk & Wasted. I know what you are thinking, a party tune hardly seems fitting to follow such a heartfelt ballad. But it's not what you think. This song is as dark lyrically as the last song, helping in the transition. But it is a rocker and damn, does this song go off. My favourite song of the album, this is a hard rocking, hard hitting, hard driving stadium anthem with vocals and guitar work to rival the best Van Halen or Harem Scarem classic. Paul Laine's vocals in the chorus are some of his finest.
Then as if to say, let's not get carried away, Dead Dog hits you right in the face. A awesomely heavy intro, this song is another modern hard gritty moody and dark rocker.
This has to be the darkest tack of the album. lyrically as well as musically. It's intense.
I compare it to I Don't Need You, with more power than that and Sick Little Twisted Mind. Just listen to the Sabbath heavy bass playing!
I Do continues the dark theme of the album, the intro is intense, but more melodic, then it gives way to a verse that reminds me of something from Foreigner's Agent Provocateur album. Once again, the songs contains unparalleled keyboard backing. The song re-intensifies for the chorus, where Paul Laine sings like his life depends on it. A heartbreaking lyric and a very intense song.
I Do fades away and into My Secret. What an incredible change of pace. This acoustic guitar and drum driven song is far more peaceful and almost happy! The guys really did well to sneak this track on here and still keep it sounding like it belongs. It does.
Continuing the happy portion of the album, Bruno takes lead vocal on Cherry Cherry, a tribute to great 70s anthem rockers, this track is charming, funny, rocking and sounds like it could have come from any good 70's Kiss album! Great vocals too Bruno!! The chorus is as catchy as hell.
Get In The Ring puts us back in the dark grungy world of Danger Danger. Another hard hitting and modern track, with vocal effects, guitar riffs that could make some ears bleed and a major bridge and chorus that will have you rocking long into the year.
Walk It Like You Talk It is another great surprise. Just like the guys ended Four The Hard Way with a bang, they do here again with this track. It's another Cockroach track, but it's hardly recognizable from the original. It's faster (much faster!) rougher, tougher and features the heaviest bass/drum combination I have heard for a long while.
The chorus is everything an ending track should be - big, fast, hard and it only gets more intense as the songs goes. And then suddenly - it's gone. The album is over.
But I feel an intense need to press play again....
BOTTOM LINE: Everything Four The Hard Way was and more. Much more.
My first instant classic. There is not a single fault with this album. It's huge.
ESSENTIAL FOR: Every classic American hard rock fan. Anyone that has ever owned a Danger Danger record.
DISCOGRAPHY:Danger Danger . Screw It . Cockroach . Dawn . 4 The Hard Way . Gildersleeves