FEEL THE SHAKE
Released in 1988 (MCA Records) and reissued in 2017 (Rock Candy Records)
I am embarrassed to say that back in the mid to late ’80s, with no internet at my fingertips, no videos accessible with the click of a few buttons, and no songs streaming before an album release, I often decided whether or not to listen to a band simply based on the look of its members. Back in the day, I decided on bypassing Jetboy partly because that there were already so many bands to listen to and discover (I think that heavy metal was hitting its peak by the time that Feel The Shake was released in 1988), but mostly because I did not like the mohawk sported by lead vocalist Mickey Finn. After all, mohawk meant punk rock to me back in the day. Was this shallow? Absolutely. Was it wrong? Well, lots of people make decisions based on first impressions from people’s looks. For instance, you might think that the editor of a website like Sleaze Roxx would have long hair and be covered with tattoos but that’s just not the case. That expression of not judging a book by its cover definitely applies in my case for Jetboy. I can now easily conclude that I definitely overlooked a band with an amazing debut album back in 1988 that I just know that I would have loved back in the day.
Luckily for me, the good folks at Rock Candy Records decided to re-issue Jetboy‘s classic debut album Feel The Shake and given my propensity to be open to listening just about any new band these days, it’s no surprise that this time out, I gave Jetboy‘s debut a shake (so to speak). Almost shockingly enough, my first real introduction to Jetboy music that I can recall was their repackaged EP Off Your Rocker! – European Edition in… ahem… October 2016. Eleven days after posting my review of the EP, I would see Jetboy play live on day one of the Rock N Skull Festival in Joliet, Illinois, USA and although I really liked their set, I did not delve into their back catalogue.
What can I say about Feel The Shake? What a great fuckin’ album! I will admit that it took me a few listens to appreciate the greatness of the album and that’s mostly because the pace of the songs are a bit slower than they are likely played live. Back in the day, it was common for bands to release songs on a record played at a slower tempo than they would be played live. A good example is Mötley Crüe‘s “Use It Or Lose It” from their Theatre Of Pain album. Boy, was that song sped up when I heard the Crūe‘s live version of it. I can honestly say that I can’t really listen to KISS‘ first three studio albums because I much prefer the sped up versions of the songs that made it onto Alive! Accordingly, it took me a few listens to really get into Feel The Shake because odds are, those songs are being played at a faster tempo if they make it these days into Jetboy‘s live setlist.
“Feel The Shake” is obviously the Jetboy anthem. Built on a simple but catchy guitar riff, the song really takes off when Finn starts his raspy delivery and the track starts building to the easy to sing along to chorus. It’s one of the great song anthems of the ’80s era. Next up is my favorite track on the Feel The Shake album — the very melodic “Make Some Noise” — which has me singing along from start to finish each time. “Bad Disease” starts off with a riff that could date back to the ’50s or ’60s before getting into a cool groove all the way to the end. I love the ending with Finn finishing the song the way that a lot of those old ’60s tunes ended with the singer getting the spotlight while stating a few last words from the track. “Fire In My Heart” is just another song full of melody that’s hard not to like.
“Hometown Blues” would have fit quite nicely on a blues record or an older AC/DC record with Bon Scott handling a slowed down bluesy track. If anything, it shows Jetboy‘s versatility in being able to shift very successfully to the blues. The rest of the Feel The Shake album rocks with “Talkin'” being my favorite out of the last five tracks given that there’s so many elements thrown into the song with the slowed down David Lee Roth animal sounding part to the energetic chorus at times. Jetboy‘s Feel The Shake is the revelation of the year for me. A stupendous album that’s been under my nose for almost 30 years that I just never checked out for what has turned out to be a really stupid reason.
The cool thing about discovering Feel The Shake in the last few weeks is that whenever I play it now, I think of sunny Florida given that it was my main soundtrack to my recent vacation in Florida. I am not sure if others feel the same way but there’s a couple of other albums that evoke vacation memories for me such as KISS‘ Alive II makes me think of the waves crashing down on a beach in sunny Cuba while Helloween‘s Master Of The Rings reminds me of riding a bus looking at the beautiful scenery in Spain. So Feel The Shake is now in rather exclusive company for me in terms of being one of the select few albums that will always trigger happy memories of a vacation. By the way, you can pick up the re-issued version of Jetboy‘s Feel The Shake directly from Rock Candy Records.
01. Feel The Shake
02. Make Some Noise
03. Bad Disease
04. Fire In My Heart
05. Hometown Blues
06. Locked In A Cage
08. Hard Climb
Mickey Finn – lead vocals
Fernie Rod – lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Billy Rowe – rhythm and slide guitars, backing vocals
Ron Tostenson – drums, backing vocals
Sam Yaffa – bass, backing vocals
Produced by Tom Allom
Produced by Ric Browde (2)
Co-produced by Brian Foraker (2)
Engineered by Patrice Wilkison Levinsohn
Assistant engineer: Nick “Beemer” Basich
Mixed by Tom Allom and Patrice Wilkison Levinsohn
Remixed, engineered and mixed by Brian Foraker (2)
Assistant engineer: Paul Wertheimer (2)
Originally mastered by Greg Calbi
Re-mastered in 2017 by Jon Astley
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, August 2017
Jetboy‘s “Feel The Shake” video:
JETBOY – Feel The Shake [Official Music Video] from the album “Feel the Shake” (1988)