Ironically, Hanoi Rocks is most likely remembered, if remembered at all, for losing their drummer in an infamous car wreck.
They started in Finland as a partnership of vocalist Michael Monroe and guitarist Andy McCoy. They had been kicking around the Finnish music scene, hardly a hotbed of Rock, since the mid-70s. Initially, the two weren't impressed with each other but in '80 they found enough common ground to form a group. In short order they relocated to Stockholm. After all, Sweden had produced ABBA, what had Finland done?
Hanoi Rocks later toured England, supporting Wishbone Ash. Their music didn't appeal to the Wishbone crowd but their exuberant performances and outlandish appearance earned them a reputation. In November of '80 Hanoi Rocks' first single "I Want You"/"Kill City Kills" was released. The Glam-Metal album "Bangkok Shocks Saigon Shakes Hanoi Rocks," produced by Monroe and McCoy, was recorded in Stockholm and released in March of '81.
Seeing Hanoi Rocks during a U.K. club gig, drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley, born in Isle Of Wight, found his mission in life. He told the group that he wanted to join even if it meant breaking their current drummer's arms. That wasn't necessary. The band's drummer, Gyp Casino, was having trouble with McCoy and exhausted from touring. He soon dropped out and Razzle was in which gave Hanoi Rocks its most famous line-up: Monroe, McCoy, Razzle, Nasty Suicide (guitar) and Sam Yaffa (bass). The group then had a successful tour rolling through India before hitting Japan. Their second album "Oriental Beat" was recorded in London.
"Self-Destruction Blues" a collection of singles, b-sides and out takes, was released. The set contained their best known song "Love's An Injection." Even though Razzle appeared on the cover it was Casino who actually played on the album.
"Back To Mystery City" came next and though it got decent reviews it failed to do much on the U.K. charts. It did however, lead to the recording of a gig at London's famous Marquee Club that was released as "All Those Wasted Years" (though the original release misspelled "wasted").
Now it was time to head for the States. Recording "Two Steps From Move" in New York, the set contained the label mandated attempt at a hit record, a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Up Around The Bend." Uh? Though the song received airplay it was hardly a hit.
While on their U.S. tour the group landed in Los Angeles where they partied with Mötley Crüe members at drummer Tommy Lee's house in Redondo Beach. On that December evening (the 9th, '84) Crüe vocalist Vince Neil and Razzle went for a ride in Neil's new sports car.
Neil suddenly lost his control of the car (though some say he was trying to avoid another vehicle) and crossed into the northbound lanes and was struck by two other cars. Razzle was taken to the South Bay Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:12 p.m. Neil wasn't injured. But he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter. Neil was later released on $2,500 bail and in July, '85, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined.
The remaining Hanoi Rocks' U.S. tour was cancelled and though they added ex-Clash drummer Terry Chimes, the group disbanded in '85.
Seventeen years later, Monroe and McCoy put together a new edition of Hanoi Rocks. The album "Twelve Shots Of Rock" arrived in '04 with "Another Hostile Takeover" hitting a year later.
Hanoi Rocks' trash decadence has its appeal even if they aren't always able to pull it off. Their premier studio effort is "Two Steps From Move." Here they do a reasonable job on "Up Around The Bend;" but then how bad could they mangle that song? They hit their stride with "High School" ("wanna teach high school"), "Don't You Ever Leave Me" and "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams." Getting outside lyrical help from Mott The Hoople's Ian Hunter was a good move. Other Hoople members had lent a hand to "Back To Mystery City.".
"Self-Destruction Blues" would be the next choice but only because it has the irresistible "Love's An Injection" and the ferocious "Kill City Kills."
Various Hanoi Rocks' compilations, like "Lean On Me," are missing essential songs but the 71 track "Lightning Bar Blues: The Albums 1981-1984" or the 72 track "Hanoi Rocks Box" is overkill.
The entertaining live "All Those Wasted Years" has the same problem. Hanoi Rocks brings a ton of energy and swagger to the affair as they spew out their "A" material (but not "Love's An Injection") as well as the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A Rollin'" and Alice Cooper's "Under My Wheels."