Gratuity goes to two people: Helix associate John Hockey who initially hooked me up with an mp3 rip of his copy of this Holy Grail rarity, and to Boppin for finding this original copy on vinyl! Helix’s Live at the Marquee EP is one of those releases that lots of people have heard of, but few have heard. First of all, it’s a promo, which means it was only distributed within the industry and never made available for sale to the public. Promos can be very desirable collectibles, especially when they contain exclusive music. Live at the Marquee was nothing but! In 1985, Helix had released nothing in terms of live product, not even a live single B-side. Live at the Marquee was the only one, and before the internet, few fans even knew about it.
For full disclosure, there is a rare Rock Candy reissue of 1984’s Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge, an unauthorized but valuable release that does contain three of the six Marquee tracks. That 2009 release includes “Young & Wreckless”, “Rock You”, and “Animal House” from this EP. The other three songs have yet to be reissued anywhere, so half of Live at the Marquee is still exclusive to the EP.
What you need to know about Live at the Marquee is that this is Helix at their prime. The classic lineup was in full swing: Brian Vollmer (vocals), Brent “Doctor” Doerner & Paul Hackman (guitars), Greg “Fritz” Hinz (drums), and Daryl Gray (bass). They were performing their most popular tracks from the Razor’s Edge and No Rest for the Wicked LPs. Starting with “Young & Reckless” and “Rock You”, it’s full octane in the tank and pedal to the metal. Helix were and are known as a loud band, and this EP sure sounds like it. They take a step back on the hit ballad “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”. Helix could do love songs like that without sounding wimpy.
Side two continues with the single “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'” (Crazy Elephant cover) which sounds like a blast. Helix do not get recognition for the dual guitar alliance of Doerner and Hackman as perhaps they should. Check out “Animal House” for more of their stellar interplay including a bit of slide. Finally “Heavy Metal Love” closes the record, an enduring favourite today that sounds fantastic performed by the classic band.
Over the years, fans became widely aware of the existence of this release. It would be listed and pictured among official discographies, but never found in stores. Until/unless those final three recordings become available on CD, this record should be sought after by every serious Helix fan. I’m happy to have a copy signed by Fritz Hinz. Also awesome? John Hockley hooked me up with a CD copy of the Rock Candy release of Razor’s Edge, signed by all four surviving members of the classic Helix band. Thank you John, and rest in peace Paul Hackman.