As Michael Monroe and band are about to embark on four UK dates it only seems right for a belated review of The Best released earlier this year. Many a plaudit is always thrown at the pioneering Hanoi Rocks in glam, punk and sleaze circles, but the frontman deserves credit in his own right as his solo career now tallies 30 years. And so, here’s The Best, a 2 CD set spanning all those (unwasted) years.
Most aspects of an illustrious, unhinged and often undervalued career are on display from the huge late 80s anthems Dead, Jail or Rock ‘N’ Roll and Man With No Eyes right up to the present day with (the now not so) new track One Foot Outta The Grave. Real gems also come courtesy of four tracks from the Little Steven produced Demolition 23 album released in 1994.
For me, somewhere near 2010 came a turning point; a rebirth as Michael Monroe extended beyond a frontman and onto a band collective. Given all that’s gone before, some may expect a wind-down as rock stars who’ve seen and done it all opt for a twilight period… but not Michael! This is when the gold started to glisten the brightest. Hanoi’s bass man Sami Yaffa returned to Michael’s side with his New York Doll comrade Steve Conte, and a new rhythm guitarist by the name of Ginger Wildheart.
This new formula kickstarted Michael’s career again. From Ginger to the Backyard Babies’ Dregen and onto current guitarist Rich Jones, the songwriting, along with Yaffa and Conte provided the strongest albums to date, and The Best suitably boasts tracks from the three most recent, and excellent, Sensory Overload, Horns and Halos and Blackout States LPs.
Outtakes are also on offer along with an alternative version of Magic Carpet Ride with Slash and the It’s a Lie duet with Stiv Bators. Avid fans may frown at overlooking the Jerusalem Slim period with Steve Stevens but you can’t have it all.
Whilst Hanoi Rocks’ impact on Guns N’ Roses and the hair metal scene is well chronicled, it would be unfair to simply dismiss Michael Monroe as the pretty poster boy for the glam generation of yesteryear. This 29 track compilation is testament to an enduring career that refuses to be written off. Kick your legs high and do the splits (if you can), as knowing Michael Monroe the best is probably still yet to come. Ginge Knievil