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) (last update 5/23/2017)

October 22, 2012

Jerusalem Slim ~ Jerusalem Slim (aka debut)

(No official website)
Style: heavy metal, hard rock
Label: n/a
Year: 1990
Home: New York City, NY (disbanded)

Members: Steve Stevens ~ guitars
Michael Monroe ~ vocals/saxophone/keyboards
Sami Yaffa ~ bass/b. vocals
Greg Ellis ~ drums

When former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe began working on a follow-up to his second solo album he suddenly found himself wring alongside ex-Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens, who was also working on some solo stuff & looking for a singer, & thus was accidentallly formed JS. Along for the ride was new drummer Greg Ellis & Monroe's solo band bassist & former Hanoi Rocks bandmates Sami Yaffa. It sounds great on paper but the result met mixed reviews. But, I believe, the reason for that is because many reviewers have seen this as a group. It's really not outside of the name. They've also tried to see this as a Monroe album. That's also a false view. Picture this more as Steven's attempt to make his Outrider, the solo album by guitarist Jimmy Page. See this as Stevens & friends & suddenly it doesn't become great but it pulls itself up a little bit. It's still has lots of failures: Monroe is a swaggering hard rock Ramones-inspired/glam vocalist, but now singing against a heavily layered metal background he doesn't found any real vocal personality as the Ramones sound is wiped clean & a cliched wannabe New York swagger in its place; the lyrics are about as throwaway rock cliche as one can get; Yaffa & Ellis might be good invidual players but just don't have the click that Yaffa had with the late Razzle of Hanoi Rocks, that was a team to be reckoned with; & this is obviously Steven's project as his writing style dominates the music. Though, I have to be honest that Monroe's voice was always the one thing that kept me from enjoying Hanoi Rocks more, so I'm already not a fan & will understand if some think I'm too harsh against him. On the other hand I have actually at in a rehearsal with Yaffa & he's great. As for Stevens playing, I believe he's an incredibly under-rated but now lost in the shuffle guitarist, & the first time I heard him I was interested. But, here he clutters the songs with so many layers that one is trying to figure out where he's going, what he's doing, let alone get into the songs. They hit you with flash but without a groove. Page did the same on Outrider, but also kept things often sounding simple with layers accentuating not making mush. Actually, there are moments were the riffs are more Page than not. But, that album was saved from its excesses by its slower moments & bluesy foundation, but this has none of that. Stevens is dropping guitars in & out to show off, losing his distinctive sound & its often chaotic & when not just sad because you so want to enjoy him. Though, I've always found that when he shines its not in the solos but in the little twists & turns for a bar or two that he adds to the arrangements spicing them up, but they're cluttered over here. His distinctive style glimmers instead of shouts here. In some ways I'm reminded of the first Joe Perry Project album where the non-inhabitions of a label or too much band influence let him go in every direction. This is where having a band is good - it reigns in the excess. But, this is not Monroe's style so he's lost in the shuffle. It's really ashame because JC looks good on paper, but none of the songs really gell here either in showing off a group personality or showing off strong individual personalities reaching through. There's songs that feel memorable, but on second listen there's too much clutter. For Stevens & Monroe fans certainly this will be in one's collections, but they've both done better & its not the album I'd recommend to check them out by. The group dissolved when Stevens joined Vince Neil's new solo band while Monroe & Yaffa moved into the more interesting Demolition 23, both publicly disowning the posthumous release of Jerusalem Slim. It's not that bad. JS, though, was already crumbling with arguments over the bands music direction & the exit to Vince Neil just fast forwarded the outcome, let alone added kindling to the difficulties due to the fact that it was Neil who was responsible for the death of Razzle, while Yaffa was the first to leave Rocks with the band soon collapsing in ruins. Obviously, JS started with a spark but it was only kindling & not enough to sustain the project. Includes two demo tracks, but are unnecessary bonuses & on the whole too similiar for anyone but a hardcore fan of any of the participants to care.

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