REVIEW: Hurricane – Over the Edge (1988)

HURRICANE_0001HURRICANE – Over the Edge (1988 Enigma)

I was aboard on the ground floor with Hurricane, as soon as I heard of them.  I was already a huge Quiet Riot fan, and Hurricane had in their roster the brothers of Rudy Sarzo and Carlos Cavazo.  On guitar was Robert Sarzo (now in Operation: Mindcrime), and on bass Tony Cavazo.  Their first video ever, “Hurricane”, was in near-constant rotation at Chez LeBrain.  When I joined the Columbia House record club, Hurricane’s first full length Over the Edge was in my introductory first order.

I loaned Over the Edge to my buddy Bob, who did not like it.  I was surprised because I thought it was right up his alley, but he didn’t care for the singer Kelly Hansen (now in Foreigner).  I was digging it at the time, and although there were some tracks that were undoubtedly filler, I thought it had quite a few killers too!  The first single “I’m On to You” for example was memorable, tough enough, and catchy as anything that major bands had been releasing.

There were two big names attached to the album: Mike Clink produced it, with Bob Ezrin acting as executive producer.  You would expect it to sound a lot better than it actually does.  Vocals and guitars often seem distant, the drums don’t have enough snap, and there are weird distracting keyboard overdubs that cramp the mix.  Over the Edge is not horrible sounding by any stretch, but it sure is not up to the standards of Mike Clink and Bob Ezrin.

It’s not always your best bet to open an album with a slow-building semi-rocker like “Over the Edge”, acoustic intro and all.  Thankfully, Robert’s electric riff kicks in and the track begins to rock like an old Europe anthem.  It’s a little more dark and foreboding than most of the hard rock making the charts in ’88 — it has some weight to it, and that’s what I liked about it.  But I also get what my friend Bob didn’t like about Hansen’s vocals.   He has powerful lungs but when he’s pushing, his voice can sound a little uneven.  As an album opener, “Over the Edge” implies there will be drama and twists and turns ahead.

The first twist is a bizarre cover of Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” that slows down and unnecessarily modernizes the track.  Maybe this cover was Ezrin’s doing.  I don’t know and I advise that it’s a track for skipping as it just kills the momentum.  “I’m On to You” is way, way better.  A bright hard rocker with a catchy na-na-na chorus and fiery guitar licks is a fast way to the heart.

“Messin’ With a Hurricane” is a pretty cool song, sounding a bit like 80’s-era Ace Frehley lyrically and musically, but without Ace!  Then “Insane” (a song title Ace also used in ’88) ends the side with a boring “blues” rock jam.  Nope, sorry, no sparks happening for me here.  Even worse though, side two opener “We Are Strong”…oh man.  I am struggling to describe how bad this song is.  Imagine swimming in a jar of lukewarm Cheez-Wiz.  Nothing about this sounds good to me.

Hurricane salvage the situation with “Spark in My Heart”, a decent hard rocker with an anthemic chorus.  It has some balls to it and Hansen’s singing here is great.  “Give Me an Inch” is really good.  It uses the guitar sparingly and has an unusual construction that I am immediately attracted to.  It’s very different, and still hits the spot today.  Likewise, “Shout” is still a good song, although Kelly Hansen pushes the limits of his range on it.

One thing about Kelly Hansen that I need to point out is that since 1988, his voice has barely changed at all!  He has lost nothing.  Singing with Foreigner is a serious gig, and he does it.

The best and worst track on the album is the instrumental closer “Baby Snakes” (no relation to Frank Zappa).  In an unexpected left turn, the band crank out a fast-paced metal shuffle with smoking drums and solos.  But…but but but!  These amazingly smoking instrumental passages are then lowered in volume as we listen to some guy named Jeff calling up some girl named Jenny and constantly asking her out, while she blows him off.  It gets tired fast, especially when, for a brief moment, the volume comes back on and Robert Sarzo rips out a killer solo only to be interrupted by Jeff and Jenny again.  Bad call, guys.  Bad call.

MVP: Drummer Jay Schellen, a serious talent with chops and creative fills.  The guy smokes all over this record.

3/5 stars

HURRICANE_0002

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48 comments

        1. Yes, actually I think they might have just been billed as “DuBrow” at the time. They have a very confusing membership.

          One thing that pissed me off was when Regina Russell tried to erase Tracii Guns from their lineup history on Wikipedia. She said he just did one practice before they split. But there are official QR press releases out there welcoming Tracii as the new guitar player, so you can’t just erase that from the history because the band made a mistake in hiring the guy! They did hire him and put out an official statement. You’ll notice the Wikipedia page still shows Guns among their members. Wikipedia 1, Regina Russell 0.

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  1. Holy Crap! Now this is a throwback for sure! I bought this on cassette tape and all these years later the track I do remember is Baby Snakes! Kinda funny…but your right kinda brutal as well…..have to watch these vids as well….never really listened to these guys much I guess I gotta score the cover as well done though!

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    1. COOL! I’m glad you know this one! Baby Snakes would have been awesome without the phone calls!

      I never bought the next Hurricane album Slave to the Thrill. The lead single sucked so forget it! I think they had Doug Adlridge on that album….

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  2. BTW, I don’t know if it’s that I’ve had no coffee yet, but what does the album cover depict? It’s playing games with me. I see a hand with long fingernails, but can’t figure out the rest.

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        1. When I was in art school, one of our projects was to create a two-in-one image, meaning where depending on how you look at it, someone could see a different image, a la the old woman and young woman, or the two-faces and vase. This album cover could qualify.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes I agree. I am a big fan of MC Escher, I have three of his drawings in my living room. His stuff is evocative of that, where you can see two different things.

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  3. Mike – I almost made it through one of these videos – tough sledding for me -this is soooo much – over dramatic fluff power-pop-metal- with extra hair——I get it from going deep with the players involved—I can almost see the music exec. chewing on his cigar saying “yeah, we can get this guy’s brothers and this guy can sing—-everything this guy produces sells-get his ass in here -do up the hair, spend a ton ton on the video—-and nipples on the cover pleeeease and thank you”

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    1. Hah! Thanks for the comment Wayne! I would not doubt that a cigar chewing exec did utter something very similar to that! Certainly some of the thing you point out are kinda embarrassing today.

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  4. Thought too the slow opening song was a classy way to start this rather cool record but also felt that solid start was let down by a substandard cover, and a substandard one at that.

    Pretty much agree with the review this was a fine start but have to say the Aldrich and Co lineup delivered what was for its time a near classic of the genre – hope Mike gets around to reviewing that record too!? ;)

    Good review.

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    1. I don’t have that one Wardy! I saw the video for the lead single Dance Little Sister, and hated it. Just hated it. That kind of funky hard rock just didn’t appeal to me. So I never actually heard the record.

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      1. Whoa! Ya gotta do yerself a favour then and pick that one up (be sure to get the recent remaster with original chick in chair on the cover to boot ;)

        Admittedly it wasn’t far removed from what was typical of the day and to be fair nostalgia being plays a part in my appreciation for the record, but that said while it didn’t get acolades like some (just pulled out my Martin popoff britanica and even he pans it calling it a 5 but personally reckon he missed the boat with this one), Slave To The Thrill was an excellent record chock full of quality performances (Doug Aldrich fer goodness sakes) songs and a big production!

        Dance Little Sister wasn’t the be all end all and if memory serves really the only song of its ilk? The first three songs were worth the price alone, Reign Of Love serving as the big opener, Next To You super cool and Young Man was as metal as they got fer such an outfit, excellent excellent song!

        Dunno, maybe time wasn’t as kind to this record like I remember and like your review of thisbrecord, some will certainly find it hard to overlook the hair the lyrics and please forgive akd ignore the videos HA! But wouldn’t want see either these two records out of my collection \m/

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  5. Meant to say – letdown by a substandard cover, and a VERY substandard one at that ;)

    Hey Wayne ya gotta ignore all the old videos, those days were then recommend enjoying the music just for the music (and one might need ignore some of the lyrics too LOL)

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    1. I was buying Hit Parader every month, so I was pretty on top of all the new bands coming out. It was hard to have an identity different from everybody else back then. Hurricane would have faded into the background for me except for the two brothers.

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      1. Yes, and also any band daring to look a little different would have been equally ignored. Even when Soundgarden and AIC became somewhat popular they didn’t look too far away from any of the “hair metal” acts of the day.

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  6. Bland album. The songs goes in one ear and out the other. They’re all great players, but the songs don’t go anywhere. Just listened to this album like amonth ago and I found it just as mediocre as I did when I borrowed it from a friend back in the day.
    Slave To The Thrill was better, despite thje fact it had Doug Aldrich on guitar.

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      1. Nope, I don’t think he’s that good. Not crap, but there’s something missing in his playing, can’t put my finger on what, though. I never understood what Dio and Coverdale saw in the guy. But he plays damn well on the Revolution Saints album.

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        1. Oh yeah, Doug played on House Of Lords’ Sahara as well. He played great on that album too.

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        2. Yeah, well, Michael Guy came into the band when Sahara was already recorded and he didn’t play a note on that record. There were a few guitar players on it, but most of the album was Aldrich.

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        3. Check out Doug’s playing on the Bad Moon Rising record BLOOD. Albeit he wrote/played on all 3 their records Blood was their sophomore and was to these ears the better record. Some real good work from Doug there and thought too his playing on Dio’s Chasing The Dragon, far superior to his Whitesnake contributions IMO which to be fair were still darn tasty too ;)

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        4. Bah, KILLING The Dragon…. Showing my age there! Chasing The Dragon, wasn’t that some Bruce Lee based bio movie or something? Hmmm…

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        5. Bad Moon Rising were just Lion with a different name. I thought that album was bland, just like the Lion records were. The same with Killing The Dragon. can’t remember a single track from that record. Not Doug’s fault, but his playing didn’t exactly shake my world either.

          There’s a Magnum record called Chase The Dragon.

          I think Reb Beach is awesome but he’s totally the wrong guy for Whitesnake. Whitesnake needs bluesier guys, in my opinion. Adrain Vandenberg worked out, though.

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