THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY.
As music lovers and disciples of the riff, we live for unearthing both new and old discoveries.
When it pertains to older music, discovering the kind of rare treasure that when you lower the needle on the record it gives you goosebumps is one of the ultimate highs. Plus much healthier and less expensive than cocaine! Finding a record all on your own is such a jackpot moment and feels like a huge accomplishment. We also get a rise on being able to tell our friends about what bands we consider misunderstood, underrated, overlooked and of course who “should have been HUGE”.
Everyone has a few of these forgotten warriors in mind from yesteryear. Bands who given the right opportunity should have gained more success. The quality of their product was so good and it can be mind boggling wondering what happened. Blame it on on record companies, FM radio, drug addictions, venereal diseases or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All that really matters now is that at least you found the music.
Those of you familiar with the chrome banshee ripper artwork at the top know exactly where we’re headed. So please, noble savage dudes and nuclear barbarian babes, grab a hold of the frothiest beer in the fridge and welcome ICON.
Phoenix, Arizona’s ICON are one of the most talked about bands that didn’t get enough credit during their all-too-brief lifespan. As a purest, I should just provide everyone a link to their debut LP so you can buy it immediately, but fuck it – you need to hear some of this NOW. Here’s a crucial pumper from the 1984 self-titled album called ‘World War’. (It’s about a future world war set in 1994!)
The vocals are raw and guttural. Lead singer Stephen Clifford sounds like a thirsty wolf at midnight on the prowl for fresh meat. Guitars squeal like a grim reaper grinding down on fretboards with his scythe. The ICON boys are hungry and ready to forge steel on these 10 tracks.
Beyond the strength of the songs, the biggest charm I take away from this record is the production. As far as rude and aggressive hard rock is concerned, this album captures that lean, nasty quality that W.A.S.P. perfected on their first record, and also heard on Mötley’s Shout at the Devil and Ratt’s Out of the Cellar. I’m no producer or engineer, but that guitar tone it sounds like it’s erupting from beneath one of those murky basements with smoke stains and wood paneled walls.
I just feel like this image is so appropriate while cranking these albums. “NSFW”…too late?
It didn’t stop there for ICON. Just a year later saw the band’s second release Night of the Crime. With guidance from producer Eddie Kramer (KISS, Carly Simon, Anthrax) they recorded a more polished effort while harnessing the raw energy of the first record. Many rock fans hail Night of the Crime as one of the most criminally underrated heavy metal albums of the 1980’s.
‘Out for Blood’ is the record’s heaviest number, a rip roaring anthem that leaves no dry eye or dry panty wherever it plays.
Avid TNUC disciples should remember hearing the song on our 2016 Halloween Mixtape Night Beast II. I can’t imagine a better song to hammer down the dusty highway under the crisp summer moonlight. Not a care in the world. Freedom. Lust. Power.
‘Danger Calling’ is one of the more AOR, arena rock-sounding songs on the record but is still a premium slice of white-hot heat. It would’ve fit perfectly on soundtracks for The Wraith (1986), The Legend of Billie Jean (1985) or Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986).
Unfortunately ICON suffered a major blow during the mixing of this album when vocalist Stephen Clifford left the band for personal reasons. The album was released in ’85 through Capitol Records but wasn’t promoted properly due to the downward spiral caused by their singer bolting. With no radio play, magazine coverage or music video, Night of the Crime hardly came up on anyone’s radar.
The band reformed with a different singer and made two albums. From the little that I’ve heard, that replacement singer sounded like a crappy imitation David Coverdale of Whitesnake.
It’s a crying shame but again, at least we have the music to live deep within our loins. If a reunited original lineup of ICON feel like playing at TNUC’s backyard pool party this summer, please contact us pronto.
I’m serious. I’ll buy extra kegs and super soakers.
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