RULERS OF ROCK (1988 PolyTel)
When the front cover features crumbled tinfoil, you know you’re in for a seriously good time.
This tape still sounds amazing! It was a gift 30 years ago from an old girlfriend, and it somehow survived all my cassette purges (even the one that sent most of them to Thunder Bay.)
From the fine folks at PolyTel, you get an assortment of hot rock that makes for a remarkably good listen today. Opening with Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” you couldn’t ask for a better embarkation point. That goes right into the back-to-basics brilliance of “Love Removal Machine” by the Cult. I remember that old girlfriend really hated The Cult, so it was kind of her to give this to me. I didn’t have Electric yet, so this was my first ownership of the song.
The Ozzman cometh on “The Ultimate Sin”, still relentless today even though Ozzy tries to ignore most of the Ultimate Sin era. Ozzy and Jake made some incredible music together and this is one. The cassette swings back towards hair metal with Cinderella and their early hit “Nobody’s Fool” from 1986. On tape, the ballad sounds thicker and heavier. It also appears to be the full length version and not a single edit. Up next, it’s the non-metal of The Alarm, but “Rain in the Summertime” fits like a glove. It’s really no softer than “Living on a Prayer” when you think about it. Unfortunately the cassette has a warbly spot right in the middle of the song. Kiss close the side with the softest one yet: “Reason to Live” from Crazy Nights.
Flipping the tape, side two opens with a hit just about equal to the one that commenced side one. The keyboards sound carpet-deep on tape, as you recognise “The Final Countdown” by Europe. If there were only two bands battling for rock supremacy in 1987, it was Bon Jovi vs. Europe. Side one vs side two!
Our first Canadian content is predictably by Rush. Hey, it had to be either Rush or Bryan Adams. “Time Stand Still” featuring Aimee Mann was the kind of mainstream hit perfect for a tape like this. Less predictable is the presence of Yngwie Malmsteen with “Fire” from Trilogy, a song totally out of character for a tape with The Alarm and Cinderella. Deep Purple are next to crash the party with 1987’s Bad Attitude. Once again, it was my first time owning a song. I imagine Deep Purple with a little less shocking next to Yngwie, though probably just as unfamiliar to an unsuspecting buyer.
Why not a little Christian content, since so many styles of rock are represented here? Stryper’s “Honestly” may sound like a romance, but it’s a cleverly disguised prayer. And finally, because why not? It’s “Hourglass” by Squeeze! I was 17 years old, and I hated it! Different story today.
30 years down the road, Rulers of Rock was a delightfully entertaining listen with twists, turns and surprises. And it’s still the only place I own those Squeeze and Alarm songs!