Saturday, 23 January 2010

XYZ - XYZ (1989)

1. Maggy
2. Inside Out
3. What Keeps Me Loving You
4. Take What You Can
5. Follow the Night
6. Come On N' Love Me
7. Souvenirs
8. Tied Up
9. Nice Day To Die
10. After The Rain

If Treat’s Robert Ernlund had ever fronted Ratt and they’d recorded an album of Dokken songs, the result would be XYZ’s classy self-titled 1989 debut. Funnily enough, this record was actually produced by Don Dokken himself after he’d be blown away by the bands ability and he demanded to be the knob twiddler behind the scenes – as we all know, you don’t tell Don no, otherwise he is prone to his usual bitch fits! Anyway, XYZ were formed when a couple of French dudes named Terry Ilous (vocals) and Pat Fontaine (bass) happened to be fucking the same chick and I’m led to believe both knew at the time they were sharing second-hand snatch! They packed up their gear and perms one day, deciding it was more productive to move to the land of STDs and opportunity….California, where they could integrate themselves into L.A.’s glitzy music scene full of hairspray and harlots. After battling it out on the club circuit and cutting some demos they eventually hooked up with Marc Diglio (guitar) and Paul Monroe (drums), thus rounding out the classic XYZ line-up and banged out their first record on the Enigma label.

I came to the USA with $500 dollars in my pocket, lots of dreams, and I did not speak English. I only knew French and Spanish. Trying to get signed was very difficult and most bands would not want to deal with I formed a band around myself. Amazingly, it paid off. It was like a dream come true.” –Terry Ilous

I had known of XYZ for quite a few years, but it wasn’t until I saw the video for “Inside Out” on a VHS my girlfriend at the time had shown me, that I properly heard their music. I wasn’t instantly knocked out with these guys, but I was smart enough to know they were dog’s bollocks in terms of being excellent musicians. They had the aforementioned perms, a simple name and plenty of cool hooks aided by average 80s metal guy looks. I think what put me off, is that the VHS tape I mentioned was given to my then 17 year old girlfriend by a fat, 40 year old record store worker whose cock she’d been sucking since age 15! Back then I could safely say, I hated every single motherfucking band that was on that tape (and there was some real rockin’ shit on it) and that’s he first time I associated music negatively with events in my life. She later fucked and even older dude, who rewarded her with a Cats In Boots LP for her troubles – so, what happened then? I fucking hated Cats In Boots after that!

Later, after getting reacquainted with XYZ on their debut LP and also with their follow up effort “Hungry” (I own the Japanese release), my appreciation and fondness for them grew. The production on the debut is very slick and polished, which has had fans in hot debate for over twenty years now as XYZ’s earlier sound was more edgy. I prefer what Don Dokken did with the band initially. I am not one of these carbon copy cat-callers, I do see a similarity to Dokken, but XYZ have their own identity and do bring a lot more originality to the table. As a debut goes “XYZ” is an exceptionally strong offering of melodic metal bliss. My favourite cut is without a doubt “Maggy” which was a lead off single (should have been pushed more with a promo video) that also got featured in the Dolf Lundgren movie I Come In Peace (Dark Angel in the UK). “Maggy” is an awesome song, a hard rock classic. The song really showcases Terry Ilous strong, rich voice that simply soars effortlessly over the magical fretwork of Marc Diglio, who on his day can go toe to toe with any of the planets best hard rock axe masters. I find with more and more listens that Diglio is fast becoming one of my favourite players. The dude’s riffs are simple yet wickedly cool and his solos smoke. I swear it’s like taking all the best fills from the old REH metal tech videos and cramming them perfectly into awesome solo after awesome solo. “Take What You Can”, “Souvenirs” and “Come On N’ Love Me” are the other really great tracks to be found on this album. When Terry sings the chorus on “Souvenirs” though, it always makes me chuckle uncontrollably as I hear it as Sue Veneers (as in dental veneers). Like it’s a ballad about some bitch’s teeth!

As well as “Inside Out” being released as a single, the label (possibly the band) also went with “What Keeps Me Loving You” and this is where I feel that XYZ missed out on going supernova globally. If the label had pushed “Maggy” more and put out “Take What You Can” as a follow up, with maybe “After The Rain” as the staple ballad, then the band may have landed a big hit. Unfortunately, times changed, the musical climate changed (you’ll be reading this a lot!) and XYZ were dumped in the gutter by the tasteless money grabbing suits at Capitol. Everyone in the world decided that they wanted the party to finally end, get depressed and worship heroin shooting tramps. But hey, that was the 90s – the music back then didn’t last and isn’t looked on anywhere near as fondly as the hard rock of the 80s. XYZ should have been huge and they weren’t – that was a great injustice. But, if you’ve never heard this band before or you forgot about them long ago, it’s time to hunt this record down and grab the ‘ol denim jacket from the wardrobe (maybe whip out the spandex too) and enjoy one of the best late 80s melodic metal acts ever. Au Revoir…


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