Thirty years ago was essentially the high water mark for glam metal and the Sunset Strip music scene. Sure it was in 1983 that Quiet Riot broke through and started a crack in the levee, but by 1985 the floodgates were open and “hair” bands were getting signed to record deals left and right. On top of that, 1985 saw monumental releases from already established bands like Scorpions with World Wide Live, Motley Crue Theatre of Pain, KISS Asylum, and Iron Maiden Live After Death. With so much new music coming out, there were bound to be a few bands that slipped through the cracks. Icon were one of those bands, and Night of the Crime was one of those albums.
Formed in 1979 by high school friends Dan Wexler, guitars, Stephen Clifford, vocals, and Tracy Wallach on bass. They started out as The Schoolboys and Dave Henzerling was the original second guitarist with John Covington on drums. By 1981, they had changed their name to Icon, switched John Aquilino for Henzerling and put Pat Dixon on drums. They released the self-titled debut in 1984, which had a much rawer sound that was heavy for the time. After touring heavily for that release, they began playing live songs that would show up on Night of the Crime. What is so hard to believe is that Night of the Crime had a considerably ideal team behind the boards with Eddie Kramer producing and Ron Nevison as the engineer. Compare Icon‘s first album to Night of the Crime sonically and there is no comparison. Clearly the band and record company were going for a more radio friendly sound. Enter songwriter Bob Halligan, Jr. of Judas Priest fame to the song-writing sessions. He would end up with three of his own songs on the album along with three other co-writes. This team was able to make Night of the Crime a perfect blend of hard edge guitar and radio friendly keyboards on each and every song.
The opening track, “Naked Eyes”, is melodic perfection! Once you listen to this song there is no way it will stay out of your head the rest of day-its that catchy! Track two, “Missing”, is a Halligan, Jr. solo write and is the most “pop” song on the album. “Danger Calling” and “Take Another Shot at My Heart” are probably the two best examples of that perfect blend of guitar and keyboards. “Out for Blood” is the centerpiece of the album. This song is all Icon with the epic intro that leads in a hard driving song. Side two opens with the anthemic “Raise the Hammer”, followed by a true ballad in “Frozen Tears”. “Whites of Their Eyes” gets rocking again followed by the “power” ballad “Hungry for Love”. The album ends with “Rock My Radio” which despite the cheesy title is a strong rock song.
So how does an album with seemingly everything going for it not become an instant hit? As luck would have it, right as the album was released they suffered a lineup change in the form of lead singer Stephen Clifford. He had a stylistic change of heart and decided to sing in a Christian band. Icon recruited singer Jerry Harrison but it was not the same and the album lost momentum and faded away. Icon is neither the first nor the only band to knock on the door of success only to walk away empty-handed, but Night of the Crime does prove their talent for superstardom! Listen to this album; it does not disappoint!