Rock & Roll Is Dead
Universal Music, 2005
REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/02/2005
So rock & roll is dead, huh? I thought that was the case back in 2000. I really did. I never would have guessed this to be the case today.
Back in 2000, I was a relatively naïve music fan that got introduced to this little band from Stockholm, Sweden that aurally raped my senses and kicked my rear for actually thinking that rock n' roll was dead. It took only one listen to High Visibility to send me racing to the Internet to snap up what, at the time, was the unheard (to me) back catalog of the Hellacopters at full price retail, including import tariffs and wack-ass shipping charges.
Admittedly, I have to say that this impulse was, hands down, the best thing I ever did as it relates to music. I haven't seriously listened to FM radio since then and even find that satellite radio these days is a crippling exercise in keeping sustained interest. Why? The Hellacopters rocked in those days, plain and simple, and the band's lead guitarist/vocalist, Nicke Andersson, successfully turned me on to every other obscure action rock band in Scandinavia with his constant wearing of ball caps and T-shirts referencing their names.
Fast forward to today and my repeated listens of Rock n' Roll Is Dead have me cringing at the sight of such a wonderful rock band withering in front of me. Long gone are the wonderfully distorted rock anthems from the days of my Hellacopters discovery, as they are now replaced by crap such as the thoroughly cleansed honky tonk riffs found on "Before The Fall" and "I Might Come See You Tonight."
Once upon a time I really believed the Hellacopters when they claimed to be born broke and as they reveled in bitching about being psyched out and furious. Additionally, I also bit when the band claimed to have started random riots while even taking them to the rocks when necessary. But Rock n' Roll Is Dead shares absolutely no similar thoughts of hedonistic agendas as it relies on tracks that give us female backing harmonies found in "Leave It Alone" and softened easy listening ditties with nearly every other track.
Sad to say, folks, but it's a bad scene. Think of the Black Crowes recording with Betty Ford's influence and you'll have my impressions of Rock & Roll Is Dead nailed to a T.
Seriously, what makes this evolution so damn disgusting is that the Hellacopters took the past year off from recording and touring to concentrate on individual projects that were admittedly as different in their focus as what I am now complaining about. Under the guise of the Solution, Andersson can get away with making an R&B album and even be lauded for his collaboration with Scott Morgan in magazines such as Rolling Stone. Same thing goes for guitarist Robert "Strings" Dahlqvist and the softer rock sounds his side band, Thunder Express, performed during the time off. The whole idea of side projects, I thought, was to break away from a parent project for a spell and then come back rejuvenated. Right?
Well, that's not what the Hellacopters are giving us with the Rock n' Roll Is Dead release. Plain and simple, they're giving long-time fans a real snoozer of an album.
Fortunately though, I know better today than to think that rock n' roll is dead. The real message to be taken from this review is the knowledge that it's just the Hellacopters who are on life support.