I just got this 5 CD box set of Hanoi Rocks, which I have been playing on the stereo this afternoon -what a great band they were! They came along when I was a teenager, I was into punk rock at that time, but punk was dying off by then, you only got one or 2 really good shows a year, 5yrs earlier there had been hundreds – things were getting a bit morose for the die hards.
I remember one time I saw these kids at the green box, (the green box was just some sort of metal electrical container for telephone cables or street lighting or something) These kids were dressed up like something out of the Rolling Stones – what the hell? I thought?? We used to stand there a few yrs earlier in our punk gear – I’d meet my pals there, talk about music, smoke cigs and drink cider, meet girls even, but now we were all a bit older, we’d just meet in the pub, (you can drink at 18 in the UK) These new kids on the block – I knew them from a couple of yrs back, they were younger than us, but they used to come to punk gigs, Riki used to wear bondage gear, he liked the Clash, I forget who his mate was, but now they were dressed in frilly shirts, wide hats, dyed black hair that made their skin look anaemic, I thought they looked pretty strange, so I asked them what the deal was and they told me about Hanoi Rocks.
Well it turned out Hanoi Rocks weren’t from Hanoi, they were from Sweden, or Norway or something – (later it turned out to be Finland, but it was all bizarre to me!) I found it interesting, but I wasn’t into the Rolling Stones, or bands that I’d never even heard or knew a thing about – so I didn’t really take much notice at that point.
I don’t know how much time passed – perhaps a week, or a yr, but someone I did know said hey man, come and see this video of Hanoi Rocks, they’re great! So I was like, oh, ok, so I went and saw it and like straight away, it was Yeah! I can do this! I get it! Reason being, this music was all about getting utterly trashed and going completely bonkers! Just like punk! Punk had begun to mire itself in arguing a reason for its continued existence, it got political and underground, Hanoi were new, they weren’t from the English scene, they were all about having a good time, acting like a loon, for the fun of it!
Well anyhow, I went and saw them, and it was good – really good – there was such a buzz in the audience, the live music scene had become so tribal, but here there were punks, skins, metal heads, bikers, and straights, all just loving it – fabulous fun 😀
Well I went and saw them a 2nd time, that was great too, then they went to the USA for their tour over there, as it turned out the drummer got killed in a car crash drunken drugs binge or whatever, and the band just lost the plot and split.
Thing is with this band, they were culturally outsiders from the UK, it was their very own version of sex + drugs + rock n roll, they were fresh and very good at it, I couldn’t pick a fav song, but there are at least a 15 I’d class as exceptional, for instance this one, what a great singalong chorus!
Now here’s my take on the whole success phenomenon of Hanoi Rocks, the Finns I believe have a strange sense of humour. (Check out the films of Aki Kaurismaki) I found this film about Hanoi’s lead guitarist “Andy McCoy”, in which you learn absolutely zero about him of any relevance to a normal person – (its not a Aki Kaurismaki film, but its style is similar & uniquely Finnish!) The more you look into Hanoi Rocks mythology, the more it adds up, its rock ’n’ roll at its most infantile humorous best – even after decades with these songs, I still can’t begin to imagine what its like to be a Finn!