Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Icon - Icon
(Axe Killer)

What's a French label doing reissuing a long-lost album from the pre-hair days of U.S. poverty metal? Well, always quick to recognize a buried treasure, Axe Killer have gone after the '84 debut from Phoenix act Icon. Formerly called Schoolboys, Icon came under the wing of Shrapnel's Mike Varney, who after recording the top quality stadium rock found here, negotiated the rights over to Capitol for a full commercial release. The rest is cult history, Icon winning a devoted following with their muscular California rock sound, creating a record that is a perfect geometrical bisect between Quiet Riot, Ratt, Kick Axe and Keel. Grinding riffs, warm thick drums, DuBrow-ish vocals, passionate melodies . . . this was a band that seemed to have it all. Anyway, we all know many ducks need be lined in the proverbial row to get to the top, and that didn't happen. Fortunately you can reach back and grab yet another record that should have broke big.
Rating 8

Girlschool - The Collection

Sort of an update on the '91 Castle album also called The Collection, this is a two CD set that offers 47 tracks, some of them painfully edited to just over a minute, but lots of hits, rare b-sides, live tracks, basically the whole Girlschool story except for any representation from the ill-fated Mercury album Running Wild. The booklet is quite deadly, offering lots of live shots, a good band history, pictures of most of the single sleeves and lots of live shots. A more than worthy retrospective into this unique all-girl NWOBHM phenomenon, a band whose early records positioned them as the finer sex version of Motorhead, while their later records had them grasping for straws with all sorts of novelty covers and producer-driven direction changes.
Rating 7

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