HOTSHOT was always a somewhat mythical band to me. I remember reading about them in ‘Metal Edge’ magazine back in the early 90’s as they were being touted as the ‘next big thing’. Problem was it never happened for them and I never recall hearing why, I just figured that like a ton of great bands back then that they just fell through the cracks and that was it.
Fast-forward to August 2005, where veteran 80’s rockers Danger Danger are doing a concert on Long Island, (NY) and I see a mention of the show also being a record release party for HOTSHOT. I thought ‘Could this be the same band?’ Knowing HOTSHOT was from Long Island I figured it had to be. So I did a little investigating and low and behold Mike Pont, the groups’ main man and singer, was finally putting out an archive release containing all the old songs! The band has featured some semi-famous names through its ranks. Past members included Al Pitrelli (Alice Cooper, Asia, Widowmaker, Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Megadeth), both Bruno Ravel and Steve West of the aforementioned Danger Danger and many others such as Tony Bruno (Saraya, Joan Jett, Enrique Iglesias), Chuck Bonfonte (Saraya, Morning Wood (w/ Tony Harnell)), Teddy Cook (Dio, Great White) and Al Greenwood (Foreigner). It’s quite an impressive array of players from the Long Island hard rock scene!
So after all these years was the material worth waiting for? I’d say yes, as there are some truly great hard rock and AOR songs on this release. Also listening to it brought me back to the good old days when the hair was long and the music was fun!
The CD opens with a cool little “intro” which is actually an answering machine message left by Nikki Sixx of Motley CRUË saying he would be interested in working with the band. The story behind this is written about in the CD booklet and makes for an interesting read.
The opening song “Love Don’t Come Easy” sounds like it could be heard coming out any rock club in New York or New Jersey back in 1990! It’s a touch “cock rock” and a tad “sleazy” but it also has a certain East Coast attitude. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before but its cool none-the-less!
“Sweet Little Lucy” has more of a Sunset Strip sound to it and since the band did spend some time on the left coast back in the day you can easily hear the influence. Again, it’s nothing new but it does bring back the memories!
Next up is “Always In My Heart.” This is possibly my favorite track from the album. It’s a great melodic track, which incorporates keyboards and has more of an AOR feel overall. It’s a well-written song with a memorable chorus that will get stuck in your head for days! As a point of reference, the song isn’t too far in sound from the great Canadian band Harem Scarem in their early years mixed with the more obscure California-based Storyteller (“Corridor of Windows” 2000 on MTM Music.)
Songs like “In The Groove”, which sees the band doing a blues-based hard rock tune with a formula made popular by many L.A. bands from the late 80’s, “Love By The Numbers” (which is a somewhat “paint by numbers” affair!) and “Rock-A-Bye Baby” are pretty typical and nothing you haven’t heard before either.
“Too Much Is Never Enough” brings things back up to higher caliber with a great chorus and good arrangement. The song is similar to that of early Danger Danger and considering the close connection this band had with them it is understandable. “Bring On The Night” is also a strong track in the power ballad fashion and features a nice vocal from Pont.
The last batch of songs that close out the album is from the early HOTSHOT/Mike Pont Band era of 1986-87. “Hold On” starts it off with a high standard and great AOR sound. A nice melodic solo is supplied by Pitrelli on this track. “Feels Like The First Time” harkens back to the early Danger Danger sound (I spoke of before) and is mixed with some (brace yourself) Rick Springfield! Hey, don’t roll your eyes, Springfield wrote some great poppy AOR tunes back in the day! The AOR-fest continues with “I Can’t Turn Back.” Again, the song is more poppy than hard rock but it’s done oh so well. The trio of “Love Makes You Blind,” “The Heartache Of Love” and “Wildside” are all great AOR tunes and indicative of the years they were recorded.
After all the years of having this band in my memory bank it’s nice to finally hear the songs and anyone with an appreciation for 80’s hard rock and AOR should dig this release. Check it out at http://www.hotshotrocks.com and see for yourself.
- Mike Pont - Vocals
- Al Pitrelli - Guitars, Keyboards on tracks 2-3, 6-11
- Teddy Cook - Bass on tracks 2-3, 6-9
- Kurt Fairchild - Drums on tracks 2-9
- Spike Frances - Guitars on tracks 4-5
- Timmy Starace - Bass on tracks 4-5
- Bruno Ravel - Bass on tracks 10-15
- Steve West - Drums on tracks 10-11
- Steve Savides - Keyboards on tracks 10-11
- Tony Bruno - Guitars on tracks 12-15
- Chuck Bonfonte - Drums 12-15
- Al Greenwood - Keyboards on tracks 12-15
- Leslie West - additional Guitars on track 3
- George Cintron - Vocals, additional Guitar on track 13
- Love Don’t Come Easy
- Sweet Little Lucy
- Always In My Heart
- In The Groove
- Love By The Numbers
- Too Much Is Never Enough
- Rock-A-Bye Baby
- Bring On The Night
- Hold On
- Feels Like The First Time
- I Can’t Turn Back
- Love Makes You Blind
- The Heartache Of Love