BY JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
TYKETTO – DON’T COME EASY (1991)
In 1991, the fall of hard rock and heavy metal from the throne of the music world was well underway. Originality was not in as abundance as it had been and there were dozens of copycat sound alike bands out there.
Joining the fray for a piece of that ever-shrinking piece of the pie was Tyketto, led by ex-Waysted vocalist Danny Vaughn. I distinctly remember seeing advertisements in the music magazines I read at the time for this debut album. However, my memory is a bit more vague about the “hit” single the band had. The song was “Forever Young” and because I never really got into the band at the outset, I’m not sure I ever heard the track. If I did, it failed to make much of an impression. So for me, the band kind of just came and went and I didn’t exactly mourn their passing as it were.
Fast forward to 2016 and a different version of the band, with Vaughn on vocals after being out of the band a few times and I had the chance to review the Tyketto album Reach. While the album did have some tracks I didn’t care for, there were also quite a few that I did enjoy including a magnificent song called “The Run”. So I was pleased to discover that I could enjoy Tyketto’s music after all.
So a little more than two years later, at long last, I dug out the cassette of Don’t Come Easy from the Big Box of Cassettes and popped it in to see what I thought of the band’s earliest recorded output.
I have to say that I was a little more than impressed. But it didn’t start out that way. In fact, it was “Forever Young”, again the band’s best known track, that led off the album. And while it was more of a rocking type of song, I didn’t really think it was more than a bit bland. I had visions that the rest of the album would turn into an audio slog. After all, this was their big song and I didn’t think it was anything special.
But in a nice twist, it is the rest of the album that had my appreciation of Tyketto growing by leaps and bounds. Truth be told, I loved all of the remaining nine songs on the album. It started with “Wings” which showed off an even more rocking sound to the band. This is true of all of the other songs with the exception of the requisite power ballad “Standing Alone”. However, in the case of that song, the band chose to forgo telling another lame tale of love that may or may not have gone wrong. The lyrical direction was more of along the lines of an affirmation over choices made over the course of time. While I can’t quite put my finger on why, the lyrics seemed to resonate with me quite strongly.
“Seasons” started off a bit light, but then added in more of an edge to the music. “Sail Away” and “Strip Me Down” were pretty hard charging numbers too. The latter song featured the inclusion of a harmonica which gave a bit for heft to the sound of the song.
Meanwhile, the use of those big dramatic chorus of backing vocals on “Lay Your Body Down” heightened the sense of urgency in the song. It was a kinetically charged track with a strong sense of melody.
My favorite song on the album didn’t quite start out that way. There’s a brief but uninteresting intro on “Walk On Fire”. It left me kind of cold, but after that quick little mis-step, the band blew out of the speakers like a bat out of hell and that increased epic sounding rocker became a huge piece of music for me.
My newfound appreciation of Don’t Come Easy certainly took its own sweet time getting here (more than 27 years after the initial release) but I have to say that the wait paid off because the album is, with that one notable personal exception, a great collection of songs from a band that definitely got passed over as metal lost its commercial sway. But Tyketto certainly had the chops to have been a great band representing the more melodic side of hard rock and metal.
NOTE OF INTEREST – With Danny Vaughn out of the band, Tyketto released their third album in 1995. The featured vocalist of the band at that point was Steve Augeri, who would later go on to front Journey.