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Michael Monroe Whatcha Want

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Tuesday, March 11, 2003 @ 5:10 PM


(SPV/Steamhammer)

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Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe returns with his fifth solo album, an effort that is simultaneously his most current and retro to date.

Whatcha Want is a big 13-song "fuck you" to anyone who has counted him out, or counted rock n' roll out for that matter. Opening with a tough as nails version of the Eddie and the Hot Rods anthem, "Do Anything You Wanna Do," Monroe makes it clear that he is playing the game by his own rules and ain't takin' no shit from no one. In fact, with titles like "Right Here, Right Now," "I Won't Lie Down & Die," and "Life's A Bitch and The You Live," his message is clear – I'm back, don't fuck with me, and get outta my way.

Monroe plays virtually every instrument on his own here, with some six-string assistance from New York's Adam Bomb and some lyrical inspiration from (sadly deceased) lover Jude Wilder. But mainly this is a solo album in every sense of the word. With the exception of some blistering leads from Bomb, Monroe is in charge here and this albums spanks of his personality and songwriting.

"Stranded" sounds like vintage Hanoi covering "London Calling" and is surely one of the strongest cuts here. "Telephone Bill is All Mine" and "Germfree Adolescents" are classic UK punk piss and vinegar, while "Shattered Smile" takes the Angel City's "Face The Day" riff, twists it, reverses it and amplifies it into some much heavier and metallic. "Rumor Sets The Woods Alight" sounds like it shoulda, coulda, woulda been an outtake from his Nights Are So Long album, with it's mid-tempo riffing and power-chorus.

Elsewhere we get a handful of covers, including a faithful rendition of the Dead Boys' "What Love Is," an appropriately barroom boogie take on Casino (Hollywood Brats, The Boys) Steele's snarling, snide "Jimmy Brown" and a gut-wrenching rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye." All are iven the Monroe shake and break treatment.

Whatcha Want is by far Monroe's most punky effort since his Demolition 23 days, yet in the current musical climate of the Vines, Strokes and Donnas, feels like it could be right at home on the radio or MTV. Hooks, attitude, riffs, image, the man has it all, and has it all in spades here. Like he says on the latest Hanoi single, "Radio and MTV, you need people like me." They sure do, Mike. They suuure do…

* * * * ½


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