Looking back thirty years to 1990 I believe there were multiple hard rock and heavy metal albums that were grossly overlooked. While 1990 was a transitional year for hard rock and heavy metal, especially for the glam rock bands of the ’80s. The musical tides were changing and a new sound was coming…grunge. While the music scene had not completely changed at this time the seeds were being planted. Bands that were juggernauts in the ’80s were now getting their albums swept under the carpet without any notice. To me, Helix’s Back for Another Taste was one of those albums.
For me, Helix was a foundational band. What I mean by this is they were one of the first “new” bands that got me into hard rock and heavy metal. Their song “Rock You” was an anthem that, along with Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize”, would cause me to race home from school wait by the radio hoping to hear one of them. They were as influential on me as any Sunset Strip band of the time and certainly played the part. Helix would go on to deliver the excellent ballad “Deep Cuts the Knife” in 1985, but then fall flat commercially in the States with the 1987 album Wild in the Streets only reaching #179 in the billboard charts. Then they kind of disappeared to me for three years until the release of Back for Another Taste.
Back for Another Taste as an album came with several milestones. It would be the band’s last album for Capitol Records. It would be the first album to not feature the classic line up of vocalist Brian Vollmer, drummer Greg “Fritz” Hinz, bassist Daryl Gray, and guitarists Paul Hackman and Brent Doerner as Doerner had left the band as a full-time member after the Wild in the Streets tour. Sadly it would also be guitarist Paul Hackman’s last album with the band as he would go on to tragically be killed in 1992 while on tour. Amidst all the change the band is going through Back for Another Taste is such a strong album.
The opening track is “The Storm” which just drips with swagger. It starts with just voice over hi-hat and bass and builds till the guitar kicks in and then it’s full-on rocker. Second song “Running Wild in the 21st Century” keeps the pace going with another great rock song, also MuchMusic‘s heavy metal video of the year. Third track, “That’s Life”, is a little more plodding but provides a great groove. “Breakdown” is the first ballad of that album, but more of a power ballad. One of the things I most enjoy about Helix is how Brian Vollmer can go from the raspy, bluesy delivery of a song like “The Storm” to a tender, intense vocal like “Breakdown”. “Heavy Metal Cowboys” brings the energy back up with what can only be described as a “fun” song. The title track is another kick-ass rock song. The huge guitar riff that leads into the soaring chorus is great. “Rockin’ Rollercoaster” gets your toe tapping with its super catchy chorus and so does the eighth track “Midnight Express”. The ballad “Good to the Last Drop” is the next track. This song is one of my favourites of the band’s catalogue. For some reason, this song was given a cassette-only release as the third single. I always thought this song should have been big. I know the times were against it, but this song had hit written all over it! The album finishes with the rockin’ “Give It to You” and the hard-driving “Wheels of Thunder”.
Back for Another Taste is a solid album. I think every song on the record is good, and overall it is a fun listen. While I give a slight edge to Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge as my favourite Helix album Back for Another Taste is a close second, a very close second. Had this album come out earlier I think there would have been huge hits on it and really taken the band to the next level. Alas, those were the times, but that does not take away from its brilliance. If you don’t have this album head over to perrisrecords.com and get a copy. If you haven’t heard this album in a while, dust off your copy and crank it, you won’t be disappointed!
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Andy “Maddog” Lafon
Several songs off Back for Another Taste as well as other Helix classics and much more are playing on CGCM Radio – What Rock Radio Should Be!