Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010, Frontiers Records)
- The Right To Rock
- Back To The City
- Let’s Spend The Night Together
- Easier Said Than Done
- So Many Girls, So Little Time
- Electric Love
- Speed Demon
- Get Down
- You’re The Victim
- Easier Said Than Done (Remix version)*
- The Right To Rock (Reunion version)*
(* Bonus tracks)
Ron Keel – Lead Vocals & Guitar
Bryan Jay – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Marc Ferrari – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Kenny Chaisson – Bass & Vocals
Dwain Miller – Drums & Vocals
Steve Riley – Additional Drums & Vocals on the original record
Geno Acre – Bass & Vocals on ‘The Right To Rock (Reunion version)’
Producer: Gene Simmons
Total Time = 40:39
Hot on the heels of a Keel reunion, complete with a new studio album titled STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL, Frontiers Records has seen fit to reissue Keel’s second album THE RIGHT TO ROCK. The original release was way back in 1985 on A&M Records/Gold Mountain Records and produced by KISS bassist Gene Simmons. The Gene Simmons connection was the main reason why I bothered to check out Keel because I figured if such an important rock star from my favorite band was producing, then it had to be good. Then I saw ‘The Right To Rock’ video on MTV and found Keel’s first album, LAY DOWN THE LAW (1984), and I was definitely hooked. As a young headbanger, Keel was one of those new bands that I pushed on my friends but no one really got into…..years later I’m still a Keel fan. This reissue is pretty much the same music as on the original album but with two bonus tracks: ‘Easier Said Than Done (Remix)’ and ‘The Right To Rock (Reunion Version)’. The remix of ‘Easier Said Than Done’ was previously released on the 2000 reissue of the album on Metal Mayhem Records and the new version of ‘The Right To Rock’ was recorded with the current Keel lineup that includes new bassist Geno Acre.
Back in the day, Keel rocked hard! ‘The Right To Rock’ was definitely a true Hard Rock anthem and ‘Back To The City’ had some blistering guitar…..for a band out of Los Angeles, these were heavy songs. Right away you could hear the power in Ron Keel’s vocals and the overall energy of the band. That energy is immeadiately destroyed by the band’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’…..was this Gene’s idea? I remember hating this cover back in the day and fast forwarding my cassette everytime! You had the catchy hook of the Gene Simmons penned ‘Easier Said Than Done’ that should have been a hit single and the obvious KISS influence of ‘So Many Girls, So Little Time’. Not taking anything away from Keel with using Gene’s guiding hand, he can write and produce, and they do a good job on what sounds like an ANIMALIZE B-side. I give Ron Keel credit for doing his best Gene impressions vocally, especially on ‘So Many Girls, ‘So Little Time’. ‘Electric Love’ is a little more commercial like ‘Easier Said Than Done’ but the crunch is in the vocal, ‘Speed Demon’ is hard and fast with a NWOBHM feel to it, and ‘Get Down’ (the third song written by Mr. $immons) has that lumbering CREATURES OF THE NIGHT era sound with thick guitars and loud pounding drums. Read the lyrics to ‘Get Down’ and tell me that’s not pure Gene with some classic phrases…..another KISS-sounding track circa 1982-1984. ‘You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)’ is a pummelling track that starts off with a quick drum solo intro and then chugs along with lightning power that rivals NWOBHM legends Saxon and puts Keel in a heavier class than their peers out of L.A. (Quiet Riot, Ratt, Motley Crue, etc.).
The bonus tracks are good but not spectacular. The remix of ‘Easier Said Than Done’ I already knew because I bought the Metal Mayhem reissue when it was released…..it’s a little different but not as good as the original. The new version of the title track is pretty good, obviously more modern seeing that the band has aged 25 years, and a little more gritty and raw. It doesn’t have the power and energy of the original but it’s cool to hear the band’s interpretation over two decades later and get a feel of how they sound now. Then there’s the packaging: the cover art is altered slightly to add the “25th Anniversary Edition” title at the bottom and the booklet includes all the original credits, the new credits, song lyrics and an essay by Eddie Trunk. A new promo picture of the current lineup is added in and a smaller promo pictire circa 1985 is added to the song credits page. The back of the album has the band picture from the original album.
As far as the music goes, THE RIGHT TO ROCK is still a solid album 25 years later. What impresses me now after all this time was how heavy Keel was in the early days…..’Speed Demon’, ‘Back To The City’ and ‘You’re The Victim (I’m the Crime) are pure Heavy Metal. I know Keel gets lumped in with all the other L.A./Sunset Strip bands that dominated FM Radio and MTV but they were definitely a Metal force…..maybe the Gene Simmons connection takes away from that too? As far as the reissue goes, it’s a good package that’s done very well. I wouldn’t have minded seeing some more vintage pictures of the band included and maybe some long lost demos or unreleased songs, that would have made this extra special. At least there were two bonus tracks to give this reissue a couple of extras. I like this reissue better than the Metal Mayhem version for the extended booklet with lyrics but, for comparison’s sake, the Metal Mayhem version is also an official reissue because Ron Keel himself endorsed it at the time and wrote a quick essay in the liner notes.
On the original album I like every song except the cover of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’. The highlights are ‘The Right To Rock’, ‘Back To The City’, ‘Easier Said Than Done’, ‘Speed Demon’ and ‘You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)’. Of the two bonus tracks, I like the updated 2010 version of ‘The Right To Rock’ better.