American radio rockers Autograph were almost a seriously big deal in the mid eighties. Their anthemic signature tune, Turn Up the Radio, was barely off my turntable back then, and their debut album from whence that hit came, Sign in Please, is about as good as hair metal gets in my not so humble opinion.
They somehow fumbled another couple of chances to repeat the dose, however, and their career petered out long before they could blame grunge for their demise.
Fast forward to 2017, and the band, now slimmed down to two original members in bassist Randy Rand and guitar player extraordinaire Steve Lynch, are back and dipping their collective snouts in the ever-burgeoning eighties nostalgia trough.
Except they aint! The band promise down-tuned guitars and NO KEYBOARDS on their new opus, but luckily this isn’t some sort of horrific (but not unusual) instance of old men wearing backwards-facing baseball caps and rapping in a desperate attempt to seem relevant. No, Autograph still deal in solid gold, hard rocking tunes, and for the most part what you get here is still demonstably Autograph, thank the maker.
New vocalist/rhythm guitarist Simon Daniels sensibly doesn’t try and out-plunkett original throatsmith Steve Plunkett, aiming instead for a slightly grittier (but sadly more generic) tone that’s a bit reminiscent of latterday Foreigner mic-twirler Kelly Hansen; It’s pleasant enough on the ear, and on fan-fondling epic You Are Us We Are You he sounds positively rampant, as the band belt out a Kiss-meets-Night Ranger anthem of pure, unadulterated, stupefying brilliance.
Meet Me Half Way, the next track on the album, is the only real spanner in the works, a song whose quality just doesn’t match up to the hair-raising mania that the band spark off elsewhere. Ready to Get Down, on the other hand is another rabble rousing slice of anthemic radio rock (it sounds like Helix!) of the like we just don’t hear enough of these days.
Of course the band can’t resist including a version of Turn Up the Radio, but at least the live version which rounds proceedings out here lets nobody – least of all the song, most importantly – down.
One clunker, four or five bona fide top drawer Autograph anthems and a lot of solid hard rocking fun. I’ll take that…
Autograph will release Get Off Your Ass through EMP Label Group on October 6th.