Tommy London: ‘Emotional Fuse’
Released on January 31, 2023 (Tommy London)
In 2018, I bought a new car after my old one was driven literally into the ground. While some of the new bells and whistles on the new car proved pointless for my experience, one that was a plus was a subscription to Sirius XM Radio. I quickly found myself listening to about eight different stations on the dial with regularly. Those included the 60’s on 6 (now moved way up the dial), 70’s on 7, 80’s on 8, Classic Rewind, Elvis’ Station, Ozzy’s Boneyard, and Hair Nation. As time has gone on, I find I more or less stick to 38 and 39 on the dial which are Ozzy’s Boneyard and Hair Nation above all else and occasionally find my way to Little Steven’s Underground Garage. And, a few other stations in the 20’s that play classic rock. But, living in that space of Ozzy’s Boneyard and Hair Nation as often as I do, I hear a lot of the same DJ’s a lot of the time. For the time that I am in the car, it tends to be Keith Roth and Tommy London above all else with the occasional Lüc Carl, who used to be more regularly on, rounding out the voices coming from my speakers. Much like with your favorite baseball team, the voices that come at you for so many hours a day often find a way to be part of your life almost like a friend you don’t ever get to speak to. Rush even sang about this with a lyric in their “Spirit of Radio” song. But, I digress!
Tommy London is an established musician of sorts in the Northeast from friendships with the likes of Rachel Bolan of Skid Row and a few that would certainly never be played on those stations, namely Lady Gaga. The lyric ‘Tommy‘s at the bar and he’s holding us a place; the corner Cleopatra has been giving me the look of deep disgrace’ from the song “When The Lights Come On” off the new Skid Row record The Gang’s All Here is, in fact, about Tommy when he was a bartender to performing with many of the artists that would be played on Ozzy’s Boneyard and Hair Nation. Tommy‘s got a rather diverse set of influences. But, there is no denying that rock and roll is in his soul. Well, with Tommy London releasing a new record, I thought I would give it a shot. After all, he spins the best rock and roll on the planet every day for several hours a day on at least two of the stations I listen to the most… How bad could it be? And, the answer is, not bad at all!
“Runaway” kicks off the record. It is a great track and is likely my runner up for song on the album next to “Sugar Red”. It’s a little more four on the floor driving rock than some of the other songs. It’s also nice to hear a song called “Runaway” from someone involved in Hair Nation that doesn’t involve lavender leather pants. “Boom Boom Boom” is up next and I don’t much care for this one in spite of it getting the video treatment as a pushed song off the record. It is very catchy and gets stuck in your head. It is catchy, but so is Covid! I don’t know why but I get Foo Fighters sensibilities poking through on the chorus and considering my take on them (not favorable) that could be why I’m just not interested. “Sugar Red” might be my favorite track on the record. From a video that reminds me of George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” (there’s a reference likely never made before on a Sleaze Roxx review) with a song that has a lot of Billy Idol vibe in it, I really dig this track. It isn’t quite as sleazy, dirty, glammy as most of what I review on here. But, it is a great track… And a video worth searching out on YouTube!
“Make You Love Me” is next and continues where “Runaway” left off. While the sheen on the record is a little bit too clean and poppy for my taste, Tommy does certainly have a cool delivery in some of these songs that rides the fine line of David Lee Roth influence perhaps with a little Bryan Adams pop bop to it as well. If I’ve not deeply offended him for the latter reference, it is a cool mix. And, seeing Tommy in the streets of New York City (I grew up across the river in Northern New Jersey but spent many of my days and nights on those streets) makes for a cool video. I wonder if he was attacked at random during the filming of the video? Lets be frank, the streets of New York ain’t as safe as they used to be… Even less so with Tommy London bopping around! “Love Overdose” is next and it continues the poppy hard rock punk vibe of the record. I think once you grasp that is what the sound of the album is, you welcome it a little more.
“Vampira” is next. It’s a very catchy pop rock song that kind of feels like it could have fit in the Lost Boys back in the day. “You Belong To Me” has a whole lot of different things. For one, it is by far the best guitar solo on the record which is a little light in that department. I blame the lack of solos on the overall pop sheen because not everyone digs the guitar solo musical bridge the way they once did. But, for me, it is just about a must. The other thing is it changes tempo a little bit after that bridge and has a Lady Gaga vibe to that part. Tommy did perform with Lady Gaga once upon a time. So, that is a part of who he is. A fun fact, this is also the only song that has the lyric “Emotional Fuse”, the title of the album, in it. “Infatuation” is up next and I think it shows off Tommy‘s Van Halen fandom. From an Eddie Van Halen guitar tone to a David Lee Roth flare to Tommy‘s delivery, this songs delivers. “Say Whoa” closes out the album. It isn’t bad. In fact, it is infectiously catchy. But, it is also not very heavy. I think that surprised me a bit as I was anticipating this to be a harder record rather than a pop rock with a punk edge sounding record. Nevertheless, it didn’t shake me loose.
A few takeaways from the record are that this isn’t a veteran hard rock band’s new album. It isn’t a band that was a certain level of heavy 30 plus years ago playing very heavy now to keep up with the Jones to appease a younger audience that would never remotely accept them. You can debate who I mean by that but there are a number of bands I’m sure you can think of by that description. Conversely, this also isn’t the next great hair metal album because it simply isn’t one. Tommy‘s sound seems to live in that 80’s pop sensibility space, hence the references to David Lee Roth, Billy Idol, and Bryan Adams made throughout the review with some nuances from more modern pop rock such as the Foo Fighters and Lady Gaga. I’m sure it wouldn’t amaze anyone to know the latter two are not in my record collection and likely never shall be. But, I can appreciate anyone who is true to themselves and while the overall sheen of the record does lean a little too much towards the pop punk side, I think Tommy is very much true to himself here and delivers a good record with a sound not too out of place for the records he spins daily on Sirius XM.
If I can take a moment to be a dinosaur and complain, I was very disappointed that I could not buy this record on any tangible format. There is no CD or vinyl version available as far as I could find. I’d probably pass on the vinyl if it were only on that format because I’m so sick of hearing about “remastered records” coming out on vinyl. That is a little like putting lipstick on a pig, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got a few signed album covers on the wall but no one can tell me CDs don’t sound vastly superior to vinyl. But, much like my review of Steven Adler‘s album a while back, I simply can’t stand spending money on nothing… It is like paying a hooker for a hand shake or to blow me a kiss. That sentence, by the way, reads very differently if you take the words “a kiss” out of it! Any way you slice it, even if my first order of business is digitizing a record by ripping off the songs I like to put on a thumb drive geek stick, I like to spend my $15 on a packaged product I can slip on the shelf and have there as a conversation piece and as a decorative dust collecting jewel case to be cleaned off once every decade or so after I play it to death.
In other words, if I’m going to pay my money, I want something to show for it! So, if Tommy reads this, bring this thing out on CD, cassette, 8 track, and/or vinyl. Something I can have on a shelf next to the albums by the bands he spins daily! I don’t care if this is the trend of the future, I’ll always reach for my wallet faster for something tangible versus a digital download… There is nothing like pealing off the shrink wrap of a new album with the excitement to hear it on your best stereo….. Not having that detracts from the overall experience. Call me crazy!
02. Boom Boom Boom
03. Sugar Red
04. Wicked Ways
05. Make You Love Me
06. Love Overdose
08. You Belong To Me
10. Say Whoa
Tommy London – vocals
Matt Hogan – guitars
Matt Slutsky – drums
Johnny Pisano – bass (5)
Jon Webber – drums (5)
Reviewed by wrestlingepicenter.com for Sleaze Roxx, April 2023
Tommy London‘s “Make You Love Me” video:
Tommy London‘s “Sugar Red” video:
Tommy London‘s “Say Whoa” video: