Imagine going up to Michael Monroe and claiming the often told tale that ‘rock is dead’. You’d be a brave man to say it to his face because in the absence of a true rock veteran the Finnish singer who has been trading rock n’roll tunes for the past 40 years is the genuine article. He drips the rock star lifestyle, he plays it, he sleeps it, he’s 24/7 and his new album One Man Gang is his 10th solo studio album and his 23rd career record to date and he has never sounded better, straight up, he gets better like a fine whisky by every passing year.
The album opens up with the title track which has a catchy chorus and a guest appearance by The Damned’s Captain Sensible who plays the solo on the track. Last Train to Tokyo is a wonderful homage to the city which has always felt like Monroe’s second home. Finland’s capital Helsinki is also referenced in Helsinki Showdown another rocker towards the end of the record. When you think of Monroe’s music your first thoughts are sleazy rock n’roll tracks after all his first band, the legendary Hanoi Rocks influenced glam rock in the 80s but there’s a lot going on in this album. Junk Planet opens up with a deadly bass riff and harmonica played by Monroe who also plays the trumpet and Heaven Is a Free State begins with an Hispanic slant, saxophone, think Clint Eastwood in a 60s western and you get the picture.
The Pitfalls of Being an Outsider is classic Monroe the lyrics detailing his time on the road and the misconceived idea that Monroe should have a rock n’roll ego after all of these years working with and rubbing shoulders with the greats of music. But that is why you love Monroe, he has always kept it real, for him music is about integrity and you can tell he doesn’t want to lose that.
In the Tall Grass is my personal favourite track from the album, fans will love it and if Monroe was more mainstream this would be a song that would top the charts, c’est la vie as the French say, a beautiful track becomes our one to enjoy, screw the masses.
It’s great to hear Nasty Suicide making a contribution on here with track Wasted Years and the album ends with another memorable song in Low Life in High Places. Monroe sounds great on this album, which feels in consistency his best output in a generation. The band are tight too and their 8 years playing together and the fact that Monroe lets everyone contribute to writing has worked out supremely well, there is a great chemistry which flows throughout the record.
Monroe’s motto is ‘All Killers No Fillers’ in reference to laying down tracks on an album and that sums up One Man Gang in a nutshell. Go get it now.