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.
Y&T – ENDANGERED SPECIES (1997)
Since I hadn’t heard Y&T’s Endangered Species album before now, I wasn’t all that surprised that it took me a couple of listens before I came around to appreciating the album in full. But don’t think that means I didn’t like some of the material on the album from the start, it is just that there were a couple of songs that took that extra time to grow on me.
Of course, that doesn’t apply to the opening track “Hello, Hello (I’m Back Again)”. That is a full-on powerful monster rock track. When the song is in full gear, the full band is ready to blow the metaphorical roof of the place, and Dave Meniketti’s vocals get right up in your face. It’s just a killer track and given Meniketti’s recent health issues, I would love to see this song as an opening number for a concert tour. A kind of serving notice to the rock world kind of thing.
The follow-up track “Black Gold” is another ballsy sounding rocker but rather than a full out blitz of a musical soundtrack, this one develops more of a burning groove sound that endears itself to the listener pretty quickly. The song’s extended musical outro was fantastically interesting to me. Of course, the more full-on rocking style returns on “Gimme The Beat” with Y&T as a whole simply on fire from start to finish.
“God Only Knows” is a power ballad type of song, but I thought it had more of an emphasis on the “power” side of things throughout most of the track. I liked the song but definitely found myself enjoying it more when the band was more forthright in their delivery.
I’m not sure if it is my ears playing tricks on me or not but when the band gets to rocking out on the song “Sumthin’ 4 Nuth’n”, I thought the sound had a little extra bit of grittiness to not only the music but to Meniketti’s vocals as well. Whatever it was, this was definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s just got a great feel overall and I liked the way everything just seemed to come together perfectly for this one.
As for the Side One closer “Still Falling”, the band did mess with expectations a bit. The song does start off as a ballad, but Y&T quickly turn away from the slower feel and turn the track into a crushing rocker.
Side 2 of Endangered Species wastes no time in getting down to the business of rocking your socks off! The song “Voices” explodes from your speakers and if you were expecting to experience any kind of doldrums, abandon those hopes. Because Y&T is just on fire throughout this song.
The song “I Wanna Cry” was one of the songs that took me a bit to appreciate. The song has a mid-tempo pace throughout. Almost as if Y&T were trying to play the song under the radar or something. But when the chorus for the song comes around, the intensity of the delivery increases and suddenly, even if for just a few seconds here and there, the track just bursts with a fireball of intensity.
The song “Sail On By” was the one song from Endangered Species that was played during the Y&T concert I saw back in 2019, the show that converted me into a fan. I described it in a review of the show I did as being very cool. And as I listened to the studio version here, I was once again struck by just how cool the song sounded to me. It bounces along in a mid-to-uptempo style and that slightly nostalgic set of lyrics really grabs me each time I hear the song. I just can’t get enough of this song.
Y&T gets back into their more explosive rock and roll side with “Can’t Stop The Rain”. There’s a great guitar sound and there is just a killer feel to the song in its entirety. My notes for this article included the notation “Killer Track” and there’s just no better way to sum it up.
The song “Try To Believe” starts off a little slower in tempo but that changes as the song plays out. It has a great feel to it and I found myself enjoying quite a bit. But what really surprised me was the album closing “Rocco”. It’s listed as a bonus track online but there’s no indication of it on the cassette itself. However, the fact that this is an instrumental track that actually really “worked” for me was perhaps the biggest surprise of them all for me.
I am continually amazed on two fronts when it comes to Y&T. The first part is that I spent so much time pretty much ignoring the band’s music. And the second part is that each time I check out one of their studio albums, I come away just that much more impressed with what they accomplished. And that ends up being the case once again with Endangered Species. Yes, it did take me a couple listens to really sink my teeth into the album as a whole, but once I got there…DAMN this is such a fantastic album!
NOTES OF INTEREST: The Endangered Species album would be the last studio release for Y&T until 2010’s Facemelter.
The UK version of the album has the track listing in a different order than the US release. The Japanese edition has a thirteenth track, an acoustic rendition of “Hands Of Time”, listed as a bonus track.
Bassist Phil Kennemore, who passed away in 2011, wrote the track-by-track notes for each song on the Endangered Species liner notes.