Well, it's a real pleasure talking about Tokyo Motor Fist. I was really curious when the word about it was out. Ted Poley from Danger Danger - a man who I don't only admire for his work with that band and for his other various projects, but also for being one of the coolest, kindest and most fun and respectful singers ever. Having worked with him more than a couple of times when he was in Brazil was unforgetable, and somehow Ted and I still are good friends. It's been three years since we last met, and I can hardly wait to see him again.
Next, there's guitar wizard Steve Brown, mostly known for playing with his band Trixter, whose two first albums dating back from the early '90s, as well as its last one, are true classics in this genre of music. Steve's guitar skills have been constantly compared to Eddie Van Halen's, and he always had a special card upon his sleeve: being an awesome songwriter. The combination of Ted and Steve on the same album simply could not be either any bad, let alone ignored.
The missing pieces of the puzzle were also outstanding: drummer Chuck Borghi, who was in Rainbow and played on the classic Joe Lynn Turner gem "Rescue You", and versatile bassist Greg Smith, who worked with a series of super talented musicians that range from Alice Cooper to the late punk rock oriented singer Wendy O. Williams from The Plasmatics (yes, I've got her solo stuff and her live DVD as well, which features Greg).
Ted, Steve, Chuck and Greg together make Tokyo Motor Fist a special project, which has just put out another one of the possible best albums of the year. Ted's AOR unique voice blended with Steve's top-notch guitar licks and solos, backed up by the super precise rhythm section of Greg and Chuck will certainly not disappoint either AOR or Melodic Rock fans in any way. Also, pleasing old school Danger Danger, Trixter and Rainbow fans is a sure thing. Here we go, Tokyo Motor Fist, one of the best albums of 2017 that other bands and artists won't be able to top that easily.
TOKYO MOTOR FIST - TRACK BY TRACK
01 - "PICKIN' UP THE PIECES"
"Pickin' Up The Pieces", Tokyo Motor Fist's first video off the album, is just one of those memorable songs, that surely takes us back to the best days of Danger Danger and Trixter. The contagious Steve Brown guitar riff and Chuck's amazing drum sound prepare the perfect atmosphere for Ted Poley's unique voice. What can be said about a song whose verse could easily be a chorus? Well, no doubt it's one of the best songs of the album. Great lyrics, catchy melodies and amazing harmony vocals take us to the wonderful chorus. It's just impossible not to associate it to both Danger Danger's and Trixter's best songs. If it had been released in these bands' glory days, it could easily have been a huge radio hit. One who would call "Pickin' Up The Pieces" a cliché song would be just envious. Ted's impecable performance and Steve's creative, catchy guitar work lead to a nice pre-chorus, which is followed by an old Trixter-style guitar solo - not that long, but amazingly executed, ending up in the song guitar riff again. Let's say that Greg Smith's great expertise isn't shown off here, but no doubt it was intentional, since great bass lines that fit the song can be heard. Come on, if one's not likely to love this tune, there's something really wrong about him. A perfect opening song to what seems to be a perfect album on the way. Song of the year? Maybe...
02 - "LOVE ME INSANE"
Another very catchy track right from its very first second, that could easily become another future video to promote the album. Tokyo Motor Fist got the formula right again on this one - great vocals, nice lyrics and the feel that Ted's and Steve's bands had in their best years. "Love Me Insane" is a track that any band would be proud of writing or recording. Chuck and Greg also fit in great here. A straight-forward rock tune with another great, but short guitar solo. What else to expect? No doubt that the first feeling of the sum of the best from Danger Danger plus the best from Trixter would work. That's song number two. Yes, hungry for the next nine tracks.
03 - "SHAMELESS"
A tune with such a title can't be any bad. Surely reminding us of the previously mentioned combination, Tokyo Motor Fist gás got another winner with this one. The verse is just so cool that it's just hard to believe it comes to a song released in 2017. The same can be said about the chorus, which is way catchy and sticky, and everything os wrapped up with lyrics and melodies that are cooler than what most new (and also old) bands have been doing lately. It's quite obvious that Ted Poley and Steve Brown are the ones who are meant to really shine on the album by now, but it would be unfair not to mention the great work by Chuck Borghi and Greg Smith. Steve's guitar solo is once again impressive - different from what he had done in Trixter, it's another shorter one, which fits "Shameless" just perfectly, no matter if it's a long one or not. A nice bridge and the great chorus repetition till the end (I dare one not to say Ted Poley wasn't having lots of fun when he recorded it). Well, lots of fun guaranteed. Great music. That's what this album is all about.
04 - "LOVE"
Here's the first ballad on the album. No intros, no fills. Just a great song. Again, the best of two great bands. Soulful lyrics, soulful singing. Some of the most beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies ever sung by Mr. Poley. There's a great chorus on this one. Another song that is surely one of the best here. As one can expect, there's this awesome bridge, taking us to this simple, but great Steve guitar solo. Greg And Chuck also shine on it - let's all thank them for the "Survivor" feel here. And the tune repeats itself till its great ending. By track number four, we can tell these are short, radio-oriented songs, just like we used to have in the 80's. "Love" proves in its 3:29 minutes that a wonderful, epic ballad doesn't necessarily has to be like "November Rain". Hats off...
05 - "BLACK AND BLUE"
Going to a more "party pop rock feel" on this one, Tokyo Motor Fist shows its versatility. It's also a great song but, compared to the four first ones, it kind of breaks the album's music flow. There's some great songwriting and melodies, and amazing performance by Ted, Steve, Chuck and Greg, but somehow it just felt like a "filler" among so many great songs. The impecable production doesn't disappoint at all and, honestly, that's why the listener keeps interested in listening to what's to come. Not a disappointing moment at all, but let's say it wouldn't make it onto a "greatest hits album", if you know what I mean... Anyway, not one of the best moments of the album. Just another good tune, that could have been recorded by any band, not necessarily with this stellar line-up.
06 - "YOU'RE MY REVOLUTION"
Let's say that at a very first listen, this album was made to be one of the best ones of this year. But then again, one can tell that not all that glitters is really gold. "You're My Revolution" is a good song, but obviously this album's "Rock America". It's more than fair and valid using Danger Danger and Trixter to sell the album, but I wonder if it's really worth copying a song. It's OK for either Danger Danger or Trixter to sound like themselves over and over again, but having one song like that... Well... It's a good, short song, but not really something original (and the one who is saying that is someone who doesn't really appreciate either experiments or new sounds). Chuck and Greg shine on it, curiously doing more than they did on the other album tracks, while Ted simply sounds as if he was singing an old song by his band with different lyrics. He sounds great, right? Right. But it's not news when it comes to Ted Poley. Steve Brown sounds as if he's trying to sound like Andy Timmons (or Tony Bruno). Great playing, but not his style at all, and old fans can tell that. Again, "You're My Revolution" isn't a bad song. Just a rewrite of something that has been done before.
07 - "DON'T LET ME GO"
"Don't Let Me Go", the second ballad on Tokyo Motor Fist's album, has more of a Trixter feel. It's another fantastic song here. Steve's chorus-effect guitar, Chuck and Greg's precise rhythm section and Ted's awesome pipes deliver this emotional, catchy and great ballad. Great lyrics, impecable melodies and a sticky chorus that will make one fall for it at one very first listen. "Don't Let Me Go" is another great moment on the album. Yes, it's the typical 80's ballad. Yes, it reminds us of both Danger Danger and Trixter, but it was clearly written for this album. That's what I call original. The guitar solo on this one can be considered one of the best by Steve on this album: it's melodic, memorable and longer than the other ones. Well, a tune which could be seriously considered to be used as a future video. Tokyo Motor Fist's Japanese Edition CD has got its acoustic version, which I couldn't listen to yet, but I'm sure it must be as good as the album version. One of those songs that will stand the test of time.
08 - "PUT ME TO SHAME"
The vicious, outstanding Steve Brown guitar riff really reminds of the classic Trixter stuff. Such a great start! Also, let's say that the song title is also awesome... Chuck and Greg break into the song and Ted Poley does kick ass on it. No doubt that "Put Me To Shame" is another highlight on Tokyo Motor Fist's album. Great lyrics on this rocking track that's got one of those catchy, memorable choruses. Fans will surely not be disappointed, since these guys have another masterpiece here. Steve's guitar solo is really amazing, showing different parts and variations, and also longer than the other ones on the album, showing why he was considered one of the best guitarists of the early '90s. That's a very interesting song, heavier than most of the music here, but still melodic and commercial. "Put Me To Shame" certainly takes us back to a time where the guitars were loud, the hair was long and the radios were worth listening to.
09 - "DONE TO ME"
"Done To Me" is another heavier, yet Melodic and catchy tune, led by this also contagious Steve guitar riff. Chuck's drums are present and powerful, while Ted sings his heart out performing some of the coolest lyrics on the whole album. Here we find a great, heavy, sing-along chorus that would work out great live for sure. By the way, the hundreds of vocal harmony layers are just wonderful. There's this cool instrumental bridge which makes us think a guitar solo is on the way... Interestingly enough, there isn't one. Is "Done To Me" a worse tune because of that? Certainly not. It's another fantastic moment on the album, and surely one of the best songs on it.
10 - "GET YOU OUT OF MY MIND"
"Get You Out Of My Mind", the third ballad on Tokyo Motor Fist's album, is maybe another of the best songs on it. I've been repeating all over this review that some things sound a lot like either Danger Danger or Trixter, but this track is what proves what's been said the most, and not in a bad way. Great songwriting and beautifully written lyrics executed with magnificence by Ted (whose vocals are as good as the very best Danger Danger songs), Steve (whose guitar work equals to the very best Trixter ballads), Greg and Chuck. Have I mentioned the word "timeless" before? Yes, I have. And here it goes again: it's a timeless song. From the opening chorus, through the great verse until they break into the marvelous pre-chorus and the catchy, radio-friendly chorus, there isn't a simple thing that is out of place. Steve's guitar melody makes the song even better, by the way. The expected bridge is also a plus, and then there's another short and simple solo, where Steve Brown was wise enough not to show how much of a great guitarist he is. Well, that's what fit this great song, and he certainly knew it right from the start. "Get You Out Of My Mind" is a song that could easily have been on either a classic Danger Danger or Trixter album. And it's original. Such a great tune that should be considered as one of the best ones of this year.
11 - "FALLIN' APART"
Tokyo Motor Fist's album ends with this rocking track, which has this nice guitar riff and lyrics a bit more serious than the other songs here, and it does sound like a closing song for the album, that may also work great live. These four guys sound great together. "Fallin' Apart" is another good song but, if compared to most songs by Tokyo Motor Fist, it's what could be called a "B-Side" in the 80's and 90's. A good song, but not one that has the same punch and feel as the amazing material on the album. Ted, Steve, Greg and Chuck surely have a hit album, and they can be considered some of the best musicians in the melodic rock genre.
In short, Tokyo Motor Fist should be more than a project, and maybe go on tour. I am quite sure that a mix of the outstanding material they have on this first album, plus all time favorites by Danger Danger and Trixter would not only please lots of fans, but it could also help new fans remember the legacy of two bands that are sometimes forgotten these days due to the huge amount of new and bad music. Thanks to Frontiers Records for still betting on such great artists and keeping Rock and Roll alive. Also, a second Tokyo Motor Fist album could be in future plans. That would be awesome to hear some more from these four spectacular artists making music together.
Best songs: "Pickin' Up The Pieces", "Love Me Insane", "Shameless", "Love", "Don't Let Me Go", "Put Me To Shame", "Done To Me" and "Get You Out Of My Mind".