Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Circus Of Power ~ Circus Of Power (aka debut)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock, heavy metal
Label: RCA
Year: 1988
Home: New York City

Members: Alex Mitchel ~ vocals
Ryan Maher ~ drums
Rickey Beck Maler ~ guitars
Gary Sunshine ~ bass


Gritty NYC sleaze rock with the vocals of Glenn Danzig & a little salt & pepper from the New York Dolls & Heartbreakers as only a NYC bar band can. There's no pretty boy glam make-up anywhere around these boys ... or, maybe tough guys is a better descriptor ... as this is raunchy rhythmic cock rock of the best degree. COP never reached the commercial breakthrough that many of their contemporaries did but hunting them up will be well worth the effort. Though one is soon to realize that commercial success is sometimes solely based on luck because COP didn't have much success but the the excellent songcraft of these guys is undoubtedly a few tiers above many of their more famous contemporaries. There's a lot of bands far more famous with a lot less interesting sound. All you need is a listen to the hard rockin' power ballad "In The Wind" to be converted to the circus's swagger. COP's secret is all in the voice of frontman Alex Mitchell who takes to a Danzig-esque brogue rather than the typical falsetto screech so many hair bands of the day gravitated to. Some critics have also compared him to Ian Astbury but the Cult don't swagger this macho ... if one can even describe music as macho. But, at the same time COP were creating a style of music shared by too many other bands making their individual traits a needle in a haystack with many critics not able to see past the typical shallow sex lyrics, while the hard rock bubble would bust a few years after their 1988 debut. Line-up changes would also work against their long term success & stability. They broke up in the mid-1990's, though reunited in 2002. While many of their songs are reminiscent of Danzig both vocally & musically but without the horror/esoteric elements (i.e. "Motor", "Call Of The Wild", "Needles", "Machine", "Turn Up The Jams"), one will also find a bit of AC/DC blues stomp (i.e. "Crazy") & even country influences seeping in ("Letters Home"). It's quite an addictive listen ... though there's no acoustic slow power ballad here, a requirement of many hair metal 80's releases, as it's all in your face gutter rock. There's ballads, yes, but ballads that rock like Quiet Riot not Poison. There's a whole slew of bands of this caliber that were on the scene in NYC in the late 80's trying to fight an uphill battle against the L.A. dominated scene ... a list that includes Dee Snider's Widowmaker with Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli, D Generation & Skid Row ... that by far are grittier than any L.A. band could dream of being but the world just wasn't buying anything less than pretty boy image. Today the movement continues with such bands as Tired Wings, who I've reviewed numerous times, that try to keep the guts in the music instead of just bigger flash. NYC is a gutter. It's the land that bred the drugged out music of Velvet Underground. L.A. has never even come close. COP is proof that there really was a NYC rock scene in the late 80's/90's deserving of attention.




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