Lillian Axe – s/t (1988/2007 reissue, Metal Mind)
Dream Of A Lifetime
Vision In The Night
The More That You Get
Misery Loves Company
Waiting In The Dark
Laughing In Your Face
Ron Taylor – Lead Vocals
Stevie Blaze – Lead Guitar, Background Vocals
Jon Ster – Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards & Background Vocals
Rob Stratton – Bass, Background Vocals
Danny King – Drums
Michael Dorian – Keyboards
Nate Winger – Background Vocals
Paul Winger – Background Vocals
Producer: Robbin Crosby
Total Time – 48:43
Lillian Axe is one of those Melodic Hard Rock bands from the late ’80s that I thought was going to be huge but somehow success bypassed them. I heard about the band because Robbin Crosby from Ratt was producing their first record. I was a big Ratt fan so I kept an eye out for the debut album. I bought this album on cassette way back when but I never replaced it with a CD. The original release was on MCA Records and the first (and only) pressing of the CD is hard to find and commands big bucks in collector’s circles. There is an official Japanese issue from 1992 but this is widely bootlegged. What is interesting to note is that the Japanese version and the bootleg contain five additional songs/demos from the band’s pre-Lillian Axe days as Stiff. It seems that Metal Mind has produced two versions of this reissue: the regular 10 song album (that I am reviewing) and the version with the five Stiff songs. I haven’t received any additional information from the label as to why there are two versions but I have noticed that there are copies for sale on Amazon and Ebay. The photos clearly show the extra songs.
Like the other reissues from Metal Mind, each reissue is limited to 2000 copies (mine is #410). I have noticed from the Ebay photos that the copies with the extra tracks start after #1000, not sure if that helps. Full-color digipak and color booklet with additional liner notes. The music is remastered using 24-bit technology on a gold disc.
Lillian Axe’s self-titled debut has been considered a lost classic for a long time, I remember seeing the video for ‘Dream Of A Lifetime’ on MTV and thinking what a great song it was. The music is what you expect from Melodic Hard Rock from the late ’80s: guitars, excellent vocals, solos, melody, catchy hooks, and big background harmonies. You can compare the band’s sound to their peers of the decade: Dokken, Winger, Black ‘N Blue, and Hurricane. The first single, ‘Dream Of A Lifetime’ still rocks like I remembered it and ‘Picture Perfect’ has to be the catchiest song on the album. Take a listen to the opening riff of ‘Misery Loves Company’ and tell me that it’s not a close rendition of the main riff from Dokken’s ‘Breaking The Chains’. A small complaint on “borrowing” the riff but the Dokken influence is obvious, not a bad thing in ’88 as Dokken were pretty successful. ‘Nobody Knows’ is one of the best ballads no one knows and ‘Hard Luck’ is a heavy mid-tempo rocker that is almost a throwback to the early ’80s if it wasn’t for the Europe-esque keyboard intro.
Lillian Axe is a great band that is truly under-rated and relatively unknown compared to their peers. The reissue is top notch, as are all Metal Mind reissues, and the music takes me back to a really fun time from my youth. The album rocks a little more than I remember and there are some really great songs here: ‘Dream Of A Lifetime’, ‘Picture Perfect’, ‘Nobody Knows’, and ‘Waiting In The Dark’. It’s an album of really good Melodic Hard Rock with strong vocals, melody, and excellent guitar. I would have liked to review the version with the Stiff songs/demos because I’ve never heard them but it’s been great rediscovering this album.